With the surprising growth of Overwatch eSports, even while the game is still in a limited closed beta, many of the top Team Fortress 2 teams have already started their transition into the new Blizzard FPS. ex-Epsilon TF2 recently joined G2 eSports as their Overwatch team, Fnatic’s Battlefield 4 team has announced their transition, and K1CK eSports Club has even announced their Day of Defeat team will be transitioning into Overwatch.
Like many, I was worried when it started to seem that competitive and professional Team Fortress 2 was losing out to Overwatch, but in like any eSport, you will have similar games. It was only a matter of time until a more polished Team Fortress 2 was released, and amazingly, by someone that’s been in eSports since early 2000. When DOTA 2 came into beta, many Heroes of the Newerth pros transitioned into the game, which many saw as the end of HoN. While organizations like hontour have done an amazing job at keeping professional HoN alive, many professionals still transition to DOTA 2.
A new game does not always mean a dead game. With DreamHack Winter 2015 holding the first Team Fortress 2 major since 2012, it would be no surprise if we saw a slight peak in viewership and fan bases growing before Overwatch is made more available. Since Team Fortress 2 has been in a decline since mid-2012, many players and fans have been looking for a new game to spark that fire one more time. Around the time of Classic Mixup and High Rollers in NA, and Epsilon being completely dominate in EU, many people were tired of seeing the same teams completely dominate their scene every single season. These teams were going undefeated for months at a time, only to be challenged by the random, smaller teams on a rare occasion.
What does Overwatch bring that Team Fortress 2 needs? To many players, it’s the distinction of heroes and not classes. Though you can customize the appearance of your class, the list of banned weapons can frustrate a newer competitive player. With abilities and roles being locked by the character you select, it is much more appealing to find a role you enjoy and just swap heroes as a whole. Yes, it does bring in the MOBA aspect to the game, which is something many people probably did not want to see in a first-person shooter.
As Blizzard’s first ever first-person shooter, it is to no surprise that they tried to bring something a lot more creative and interesting to their line-up of games. With Diablo being one of the best Action-RPGs, World of Warcraft being the top selling MMO-RPG, StarCraft being the largest RTS game with an ever growing professional scene, and Hearthstone – the online card game that even beat Magic: The Gathering Online. It may seem like a Team Fortress 2 clone, but it is bring us something we haven’t seen before.
When Blizzard first announced Overwatch, after announcing the cancellation of the seven year project Titan, a few game developers have already tried to beat Blizzard to the punch. Hi-Rez recently launched the closed beta for their new game, Paladins. A first-person shooter that brings the abilities of a MOBA, the mounting system of Heroes of the Storm, and the card system of Hearthstone. What is ultimately a rip-off of all of Blizzard’s newest games has not seen much success over Overwatch. Lastly, Motiga released their own clone titled Gigantic. A third-person shooter, similar to SMITE, where team’s of five fight each other with their “Guardians” trying to defeat one another along with their opponent’s Guardian. The Gigantic community has grown a small professional scene, but much like Paladins, has not seen the same success as Overwatch, or even a similar growing eSports community.
While Overwatch may be in an extremely limited beta, and is currently down for the next month or so, the eSports community has already made it’s transition with many professional from “dead games” making their transition. I am positive Blizzard will treat Overwatch eSports as well as they have treated their newer games, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone. Expect an Overwatch World Championship at BlizzCon 2016.