Activision Blizzard Confirms Overwatch’s Success With Tournament In Las Vegas And Plans For A New League

Joss Wood October 27, 2016
The Major League Gaming Corporation (MLG) has announced that a $100,000 prize pool will be offered for an Overwatch Invitational to be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, on Dec. 16-18.

MLG is owned by Overwatch creator, Activision Blizzard.

MLG is inviting eight of the top Overwatch teams to take part, but the main focus of the esports weekend will be on Call of Duty.

The first North American regional tournament of the second annual Call of Duty World League (CWL) will be the center of attention as twelve North American teams will begin in pool play.

A further 96 teams will compete to win a spot on the Championship Sunday when the $100,000 main prize will be awarded:

“Eight of the top twelve pool play teams will be chosen based on placings of the top North American teams from the Call of Duty Championship. The remaining four teams will be awarded spots based on GameBattles tournament finishes.”

MLG is deploying its EVE viewing platform for the event

The Call of Duty audience will benefit from MLG’s EVE—Enhanced Viewing Experience—viewing platform, which uses comprehensive match data to make it easier to understand what is happening in-game.

MLG Co-founder Mike Sepso explained the system in an interview with Mashable:

“The main goal for EVE is to provide a richer esports-specific viewing experience for fans. Our primary objective is to help new fans get acclimated more quickly.

If you’re not familiar with the game you’re watching it’s hard to understand what’s going on, you’re really only ever seeing a small aspect of the playing field so to speak.”

EVE uses historic and real-time data to feed into algorithms that provide almost instant insight into the game play. Sepso added:

“We can also use EVE as a very rich scoreboard, displaying information that you’re not getting visually or through the broadcast announcers.”

EVE’s debuted for Call of Duty, but MLG is developing the platform for use with many more of its game titles, including Overwatch.

The system could be of real interest to esports betting operators, particularly as they try to attract traditional sports bettors to experience and bet on esports.

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The third attraction of the weekend is End Game

In line with the trend to add extra entertainment to esports tournaments so that visitors enjoy a much more engaging and rewarding experience, MLG is putting on a third segment for the weekend called End Game:

“Standing at the intersection of esports, music, and digital culture, End Game will bring together thousands of eager esports fans under one roof for a huge celebration featuring interactive experiences, surprise musical performances and unique opportunities for content creators throughout the weekend.”

MLG’s VP of Brands and Content Sundance DiGiovanni said:

“End Game is going to be the biggest celebration of esports culture in MLG’s history. Video games are a dominant force in pop culture and have as much mindshare with this audience as music, art, or movies.

When we looked at other festivals, we saw a huge hole in their programming, and Vegas presented an opportunity for us to celebrate these content creators, esports pros, and digital influencers. To put it simply, if you’re neglecting esports at your events, you are missing out on a huge passion point for a highly-engaged and creative audience.”

Overwatch is taking a place among the world’s top esports

Activision Blizzard released Overwatch at the end of May this year, and promoted it for competitive esports with a $10,000 tournament at the Esports Arena in Santa Ana, CA.

This was quickly followed by the Overwatch Atlantic Showdown in late August. Organized by ESL, the event offered $100,000 in prize money.

Now there are a plethora of smaller Overwatch events being played every month, and the big esports betting operators like Betway, SkyBet and Bet365 are offering players the chance to bet on the tournaments.

There has been a rush to create Overwatch teams, and some big names have invested in them. One of the latest was DJ Steve Aoki, who recently bought a controlling interest in Team Rogue.

On Twitch, Overwatch now ranks as the 7th most-watched game with 3.2 million hours of play watched last week—figures from Gamoloco.com.

It has a long way to go to match League of Legends, which recorded 21.6 million viewing hours, but is close to reaching the World of Warcraft numbers of 3.8 million hours.

Activision Blizzard is starting an Overwatch league

At the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick gave the first indications that there will soon be a dedicated Overwatch league:

“What we’re doing is creating professional content. So we’re organising around teams and leagues.

You will have the Overwatch league which will have a certain number of teams. Those teams will be a combination of professional sports teams as owners and endemic sports teams as owners.”

The company hasn’t confirmed the plans, so the league’s first season may still be some way off. But if it succeeds as well as the CWL, it will offer yet more events for esports bettors.

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