Logan McLean, Esports Advisor, for NGame Esports talks about the new format of the Overwatch League.
Starting in 2020 the Overwatch League (OWL) will have a different format. Each team will host at least two homestead weekend events which will remove the current 4 stage format. This format is only planned for 2020 and will be reviewed after the season is over. How do you feel about the change and how it may impact fan engagement?
I had the fortune of attending the Dallas Homestand this past April; it was the first-ever home game in OWL history. Using this event, and more recently Atlanta’s in early July as an indicator of potential future successes. The changes were well received by the fans. At the Dallas Homestand, the home crowd was deafening for every single match played.
OWL home games will “wake-up” and convert people who are on edge about the concept of esports. The opportunity for fans to attend a home game, and congregate with other fans to celebrate their shared fandom is a universal concept. An OWL fan and viewer can bring a friend who knows nothing about Overwatch to a match, and that new viewer will be able to feel the energy in the building. They may not understand what is happening on the screen, but they will be able to discern when something interesting triggers the crowd. OWL viewers and esport consumers are much more engaged than your traditional viewer of the NFL, NBA, MLB, etc. Speaking again from experience, while I was at the Dallas Homestand, no one was on their phones when matches were being played. When teams were competing everyone was glued to the screens watching the match, which translates to guaranteed eyes on your product as an advertiser!
In your opinion, what is the measure of success in terms of evaluating the new format?
I measure the success of the Overwatch League by reading the angry tweets of traditional jocks every time the OWL is shown on ESPN. The success is already realized, franchise owners are now tasked with creating purpose-built arenas post the 2020 season. Fans will be out in droves for home games, look for significant game-day revenue and merchandise sales.