The Overwatch League hasn’t exactly in the best place over the past few weeks, with concerns about the League’s price driving many traditional esports teams from investing in Blizzard’s grand plan. In an interview with glixel, Immortals CEO Noah Whinston discussed his thoughts on the Overwatch League, and if the esport has the ability to endure.
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While the interview mainly focuses on Dota 2 and its future, Whinston does give his thoughts on Blizzard’s attempts at American sports-style franchising with the Overwatch League. “From our perspective, Activision-Blizzard are taking a the kind of approach that we like to see” says Whinston, with it having a great focus on “building long-term partnerships with teams and of reorganizing teams as integral parts of the ecosystem.”
Unlike Dota, where Whinston believes that there are “poor incentives for developing talent”, an Overwatch franchise system creates a framework not only for players looking to climb up the ranks, but for esports teams who want some element of financial stability. By having something like Blizzard’s Overwatch League, players and teams can work “to create structure to win sustainability forever”, rather suffering through the current feast or famine cycle where a team’s whole future is determined by their performance in a tournament like The International.
So while Whinston believes that Blizzard are doing the right thing with the structure of the Overwatch League, he doesn’t believe the game is quite there yet for companies to “invest heavily in content creation.” He admits that he doesn’t know “if [Immortals are] even going to have an Overwatch team six months from now”, so it seems impractical to invest so much money at this time. Immortals will continue to compete in tournaments outside of the OWL and if the game is still as popular in five years’ time, that’s when the team will start to “pump out a ton of content and build those storylines.”
If you’re into esports development and the future for both Dota and Overwatch, the whole interview is worth a read.