I remember back when I read an article online that the massive sports network ESPN would start to broadcast E-Sports coverage and to the dismay of ‘true’ sport enthusiasts, this was a massive step in the right direction for the competitive and professional players out there. Gaming would be seen as something that does take skill and peak health to compete. Turn the clock forward to November 4th, 2016 and bring in the announcement of Blizzard’s Overwatch League. This ambitious initiative put forth by Blizzard is the first step into making gamers actual world renown athletes that garner the praise, merchandising and publicity of more traditional sports athletes. Imagine Under Armour commercials featuring your favorite Overwatch player or your favorite team on the box of your morning cereal of choice. This is a future that is now possible and it is exciting for professional gamers; it is also quite terrifying to be honest.
The world of competitive gaming is for a lack of a better word salty and hotly harsh at times. In an environment where kill’s over death’s are the make or break decision in a player that is competitive. The gamer based meltdowns, the hate speech, the less than perfect gaming community is now put on a spotlight and will become publicly accessible for criticism from parties who would seek to further discredit gamers as athletes. This could be an extreme scenario, but it is one that is possible nonetheless. I mean just look at what happens to professional sport athletes in the news right now; this could be a future where instead of the latest doping scheme we get news about the latest overclocking scheme or professional grade aim-bots. The possibility of publicly shaming gamers is pretty great. All the while this does present a massive, MASSIVE boost in chance for players to be recognized as professional and highly skilled in their respective fields of play. It is a chance to be a public face for the millions of gamers across the globe to spread wisdom that is beneficial to the hobby that we all partake in day to day. It gives lesser individuals the chance to aspire to greatness through the everyday games that they play.
Now the planned league will establish actual teams for real world city locations, colleges could have esport league teams that can compete at nationals to give their school an accredited boost in popularity and media focus. What this also gives our professional brethren is a chance to make this a career. These players can be contracted and earn pay for their performances much like traditional athletes and they can earn brand recognition. Will these gaming leagues also help make gaming more accessible to the common player? Who knows. As it stands most computer rigs that stand at the 300USD plus point are capable of playing the latest titles. It is however still out of reach for many in other countries. The league can run the risk of being dominated by the already existing playing field of players who happen to have the luck at having parents or family that can fund them or having an established job that can fund their endeavor. It frankly opens a door to a lot of questions on how accessible this can be for the everyday player; granted home game consoles do provide a much better door to success in esports.
This is all outstanding and very interesting to take into account, considering the amount of effort that will have to go into all of this is just mind boggling and I am curious to see how many colleges and cities will adopt this league and to promote a new age and generation of athletes into the mixture. As always please feel free to post your opinions on the matter down below! It personally tickles me thinking that we could have a fantasy league with Overwatch players in the near future.