Blizzard Entertainment’s flagship first-person shooter was first released back in 2015 and has become one of the most acclaimed and popular titles in the gaming world to this day.
There’s been some debate over how seriously Blizzard has taken the prospect of Overwatch becoming a leading Esport over the past few years, and the impending release of Overwatch 2 seems to suggest that the company is looking more for continued mainstream releases rather than building on and developing the depth of their original title.
Nevertheless, Blizzard has shaped the way in which the Esports industry operates in ways most don’t realize fully yet with Overwatch. For starters, they are one of the first companies to take full ownership of the game’s competitive scene through the launch of the global Overwatch League. Click here to see the calendar of the next Overwatch Tournaments and watch esports games online.
This league sees Overwatch pro teams from around the world travel to each other’s home cities each week and face off with thousands of hardcore fans packing out huge stadiums to raise the profile of the game worldwide and create some truly memorable spectacles.
The likes of League of Legends and Call of Duty have begun to adopt similar formats for their competitive scenes as Overwatch, showcasing the game’s influence on the Esports industry and potentially paving the way for more titles to follow in its footsteps. Whether Overwatch or Overwatch 2 breaks into the realm of high profile competitive titles, there’s no denying the legacy that an innovative tournament like the Overwatch League will have on the Esports industry going forward.
Despite being released in 2015, Psyconix’s Rocket League has had a big 2020 so far. The game was moved to a free-to-play model in September, which marked a huge step forward in the game moving towards a more Esports-friendly model. The industry has exploded over the past few years, and it’s no surprise to see player counts in the biggest titles rising year on year with the likes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and League of Legends all being made free to play.
Psyconix was also taken over by Fortnite’s owners’ Epic Games this year, bringing together the two games and launching events such as the LlamaRama competition earlier this year.
Rocket League betting has become more and more popular at Esports specialist sites such as Unikrn.com, and leading events like the Rocket League Championship Series have seen their viewership numbers soar on streaming sites such as Twitch.
Esports orgs such as G2 and Team Vitality have all invested into Rocket League over the past few years, as well as high profile real-world sports sides such as FC Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain. And with the likes of David Beckham’s Guild Esports group and Antoine Griezmann’s own side also expressed interest in getting involved with the game, this could be the up and coming title to look out for.
Fortnite is a game that needs no introduction at this point. Developed by Epic Games, it is the ultimate battle royale title and a game that has blurred the line between gaming and real-world mainstream entertainment better than anything else that has come before.
As mentioned above, the game has been moved to a free to play model and has subsequently seen its active player base soar through the roof.
The first-ever Fortnite World Cup was held in the summer of 2019 in New York and marked the game’s first proper foray into the world of Esports. It boasted a prize pool of $35 million, which was a record in the industry for a time. It is still the second-highest tally Esports has ever seen, but Fortnite really did suffer from its one annual event being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year.
2021 is coming in as Fortnite’s redemption year. The pressure is on the game to really put on a show again and bounce back from a stunted year this year, and there’s every expectation that it will manage to do so with its inflated player count.