eSports: An Overwatch overview and picks for tonight’s OWL matches
About the Author
Basting has been playing Overwatch since 2016, jumped around on a couple of teams and is now an analyst for a high level team trying to get into the Overwatch Contenders league. Basting has been coaching and analyzing teams for almost 2 years and has been watching and analyzing the Overwatch League ever since it started.
Overwatch was released in May 2016 and has quickly risen to become one of the leading eSports due to the support supplied by developer Blizzard. The creation of the Overwatch League (OWL) has contributed significantly to both the growth of fandom but has created a regular betting opportunity for wagering. The future appears bright based on the continued growth in franchise fees, as well as, the growth in the number of franchises. Initial franchise fees of $20 million in 2018 have been eclipsed in 2019.
Overwatch is a first first-person shooter (FPS) game made by Blizzard. There are 29 characters (heroes) to choose from for game play and no character can be selected more than once per team. Teams are divided into six players apiece, and players typically specialize in being Tanks, Supports, DPS, or in a Flex role. Each role is well defined within the team and team play is of paramount importance.
There are multiple game modes in Overwatch, and in in each match, teams play four different modes. Maps were designated to be used for Control, Assault, Escort, and Hybrid. Each match contains one of each map with a Hybrid used in a fifth map tiebreaker. Only map wins matter, so final score possibilities include 4-0, 3-0 (with a tied map), 3-1 and 3-2. Multiple tied maps is possible but rare meaning 2-0, 2-1 and 1-0 scores are possible. Wins/losses as well as total maps won are used for standings.
Unlike other FPS games, where a player can act alone and change the course of the game, Overwatch requires constant teamwork, including communication, in order to succeed. There are numerous special skills possible during play which influences the outcome and those will be described in the future.
The Competitive Scene
Blizzard, created a sight specific dynamic for OWL with teams representing locations. This has created an added level of fandom which resembles other sports. Currently, matches are played at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California, but many teams are planning arenas in their home cities.
Twelve teams took part in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. Three continents were represented, and the league was split into two divisions. The Boston Uprising, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior and Philadelphia Fusion played in the Atlantic Division. The Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Valiant, Los Angeles Gladiators, San Francisco Shock, Shanghai Dragons, and Seoul Dynasty played in the Pacific Division.
The Spitfire defeated the Fusion in the finals in front of a two-day crowd at Barclay Center in Brooklyn that exceeded 30,000. The Fusion had defeated the Excelsior in the semifinals depriving the top regular season team from playing the finals in front of a home audience.
For 2019, the league has added the Atlanta Reign, Paris Eternal, Toronto Defiant, and Washington Justice in the Atlantic Division and the Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, and Vancouver Titans in the Pacific Division.
The season is broken up into 4 stages with 5 weeks per stage resulting in each team playing 8 matches per stage. Each stage has a playoff involving the top 8 teams. End of the year playoffs include the top 1 from each division, the top 4 as wildcards plus the top 2 from a 7-12 sudden death elimination.
The largest single tournament in the world of Overwatch is the Overwatch World Cup. There, teams from 16 different countries compete in a single elimination tournament to determine which country has the best Overwatch players. South Korea has won all three Overwatch World Cups since the competition’s inception in 2016, and players from South Kora are represented on many of the OWL teams.
There aren’t many other tournaments for Overwatch yet because Blizzard is putting their faith in the long-term success of the Overwatch League and not allowing much else aside from it.
There are two ways to bet Overwatch on most bookmaker sites, odds with money line or straight money line. Since league expansion has diluted talent somewhat, the OWL is searching for some consistency from teams. As a result, the money line variability between teams has been huge but it is the best way to bet since all the bookies offer +1.5/-1.5 spreads with added money and it’s easier just to grin and bear the line. Each match will have the favorite with the negative money line and the underdog with the positive money line. As is the case with all sports betting, the negative money line is the amount wagered to win $100 and the positive is the amount won with a $100 wager.
All of the money lines are at the timing of writing so they may vary by game time. If they vary significantly, understanding why is important and it’s on you.
Stage 1 Week 2
First night: Thursday 2/21/19
Match 1: Washington Justice (+250) vs London Spitfire (-345)
Even with London having a poor showing in the opening week, the Justice who have a very unproven roster should lose, they did manage to take a map off of New York which shows they are not entirely terrible. London should win 3-1 but the difference between these two is not worth the spread making the money line the only play.
Match 2 :Philadelphia Fusion (-950) vs Florida Mayhem (+450)
In this match the Fusion would be the automatic favorite just due to past success. With the extremely poor showing from the Mayhem in their first match against the Atlanta Reign showing how little chemistry the players had with each other, a similar poor outcome is expected here. And the Fusion are looking like a team focused on a return trip to the finals right now. In conclusion the Fusion should 100% win 4-0. You can play the spread to reduce the negative money line.
Match 3: Guangzhou Charge (+130) vs Dallas Fuel (-175)
The thought following the Charge’s loss was that this is a good team with some bad luck. The DPS play should put them over the top this week against an overrated Dallas Fuel. The Fuel suffer from mediocre supports with an aggressive main tank but they should be able to make it close. The Guangzhou Charge should win 3-2. This is your upset for the evening so focusing here could dwarf returns on the matches above.
Match 4: Seoul Dynasty (-180) vs Chengdu Hunters (+135)
The Dynasty improved their roster this off-season they now have a better main tank with Fissure. Chengdu is trying to achieve with what Shanghai tried last year with an all Chinese roster (even if that meant Shanghai lost every match…). It managed to work against Guangzhou due to a costly mistake made by the Charge. Seoul Dynasty should win 3-1. Not much benefit to the spread so money line here.