I am an avid Overwatch gamer. For anyone who plays the game, I main Zenyatta, Moira, Sigma, and DVa. For me, Overwatch is a game where strategy and coordination are key to the success of the game. I love the community that gets involved with the game, and the people I have met through playing the game. One of my favorite aspects is watching the Overwatch League. This is a professional league of Overwatch gamers, much in the same way that there is a professional football league or baseball league. There is a great deal of people I have had the chance to bond with on OWL (Overwatch League). One of the more positive aspects that the OWL has had is the impact OWL has on propelling games into the mainstream media. In the most recent season, games were streamed on ESPN, with the Grand Finals playing on ESPN as well. For gamers all over the world, this is a titanic victory. For so long, gaming has had a stigma about it, where it is childish and does not lead to anything in life. OWL has been a defining force to changing that reality, and helping bring up the serious question of professional gaming.
OWL has been around for two seasons now. In fact, by the time this article is published, the Grand Finals between the Vancouver Titans and the San Francisco Shock will be over. With the success of the league, the question of whether professional gaming should be considered as seriously as other sports has been asked. The simple answer to this is yes. With the advancement of technology, it only makes sense that there is an advancement of entertainment as well. And it is often forgotten how much skill and training actually goes into being a pro gamer. I enjoy gaming, I would say I am good at it. But that took time and practice. One cannot simply quickscope halfway across the map without practice. Throwing the perfect grenades, understanding the mechanics of knifing, and how to use abilities in sync all takes practice in the same way that any other activity would. And the professional gamers who play on the stage deserve the merit of being masters of their craft. I often think of the off support player for the New York Excelsior, Jjonak. He is one of my favorite players to watch because of his mechanical skills. His trademark character, Zenyatta, is a fantastic healer to watch in combat. And Jjonak is absolutely brilliant in the way he plays around with the abilities that Zenyatta has to offer. The same goes for many other players in league, such as Surefour, Sinatraa, Carpe, Poko, Big Goose, and the list goes on. These players spend hours a day practicing their sport. While it may be sitting in front of a screen, that does not make it any less of a craft of excellence. The practice can include how to position oneself on a map, how to practice flick shots as Widowmaker, how to dive on the backline while peeling back for your own supports. There is practice and commitment to a high degree.
Gaming will continue to be a defining force in our lifetime. It is not going away, nor is esports going to disappear. Overwatch has been positioned perfectly to act as a catalyst into moving gaming into the modern era of entertainment. The commentators are fun to listen to, the game play is well explained and easy to watch, and the players are committed to their craft. Competitive gaming is here to stay.