By Sebastian Moronta, SGA Correspondent
Last Sunday, millions and millions tuned in for the largest televised annual sporting event there is, the Superbowl. It’s the one day a year everyone pretends to be a football fan, unless you already are one, in which case you’re probably still hungover at this point. Those who aren’t tend to slog through the day stuffing themselves with endless party snacks and feigning excitement until the good part (the commercials) come on. I’m one of those people.
I’ve never been a sports fan, I always thought die-hard allegiances to teams based on the city in the title was odd, being that often very few players on those teams are actually from the city they play for. I thought the amount of content to keep up with every week was insurmountable, and the endless names and stats were all too much. I thought it wasn’t for me, I was wrong.
It turns out I love knowing all the names of the best players, I will stay up as long as I have to catch my team’s game(s), and I don’t care that barely any of them are American let alone from Boston, I will root for them against all odds. I’m a total sucker for all the conventions of sports, I was just bored by the games themselves, and once I found a game that I loved everything made sense.
That game is Overwatch, and after a very successful first year garnering over 35 million players, they have just recently launched an eSports league unlike any other. This league, aptly titled the Overwatch League, challenges twelve international city-based teams to compete four nights a week for a five-month season, hosted in a newly-built eSports arena, and streamed online for anyone to watch for free.
The infrastructure of the league is similar to that of any professional sports league: Players a drafted and awarded salaries, teams are based in cities like Boston, Philadelphia, London, and Shanghai, and after the regular season come playoffs and a championship.
The difference, of course, is that Overwatch is a video game, which makes it more dynamic and exhilarating to watch.
Take football, for example. The stadiums change, but it’s always on a flat playing field 100 yards long, and the players are limited by their physical abilities. Imagine how much more fun it would be to watch if, say, the field were 150 yards long, or if it had hills and obstacles, or if some of the players had jetpacks, for example. In Overwatch, the maps and objectives change, and players have 26 characters with unique talents and abilities to choose from. Yes, one of them has a jetpack.
To continue with the football analogy, watching it can grow boring with the limited camera placements, where in eSports the commentators can focus on whatever, or whoever, they want. Take that 80-yard miracle dash to the end zone, through waves of defenders, and imagine you could see that play from the running back’s perspective. That’s certainly more interesting than the one of three angles above the field the producers
Now obviously a lot of this is specific is Overwatch, and there are few eSports leagues as robust and viewer friendly as the OWL, but the point still remains. As a spectator, I’m much more engaged by a game with a dynamic play area, shifting objectives, playstyles, and circumstances, as well as a character roster that go beyond the limits of normal human physiology. I do concede however, traditional sports have the better commercials. We’ll catch up one day.