Overwatch esports is still finding its footing within a larger esports scene. One of the major events that is seeing a second iteration is the Overwatch World Cup — which first made its debut last year in a series of regional games that led up to BlizzCon 2016.
Participating in the community of the World Cup in 2016 was incentivized by allowing fans in each region to select the players that would represent them. The four players with the highest votes became that country's team — along with two other captain's pick players to fill the six-man team.
However in the new World Cup for 2017, Blizzard's changed that process. Instead of fans selecting the team themselves, they vote for a committee of various popular Overwatch community members — streamers, professional players, YouTubers, etc. Then the national committees — which were just announced — selects the team that they think will be best to participate in the World Cup.
Here's why Blizzard decided to change the rules
It might seem that Blizzard is working against its fans' best interests by cutting off the direct voting practice, but there are some reasons that it makes sense.
For example, generally, fans are likely to choose the people in the Overwatch community that they know the best, not the players that would actually perform best. On the other hand, content creators like Stylosa — who is on the Great Britain committee — live and breathe all aspects of Overwatch.
They follow the esports scene and can make more informed decisions than casual players.
As Stylosa mentions in his video on the subject:
This is supposed to be marrying the two communities together. So you get the Overwatch content creators and you get the Overwatch esports guys, you bring them together, they work together and we have this nice sort of exhibition.
Another aspect of this relates to the cultural differences surrounding esports. In South Korea, the esports industry was accepted and nurtured pretty much immediately. Consequently, as even the New York Times has reported, esports is becoming a national pastime.
Keeping that difference in mind, it's no wonder that the South Korean team was entirely made up of different pro players, while Western teams also had streamers, content creators and even comedic personalities.
It's also no surprise that South Korea basically dominated through the whole tournament.
This decision by Blizzard seems to be led by the desire to create a more even playing field for the finals at BlizzCon 2017. While it's definitely a big change regarding team management, we'll have to wait and see if it changes the results this year.
More Overwatch news and updates
For more on Overwatch, check out the rest of what Mic has to offer. Here is an essay about how Efi Oladele was a missed opportunity for Overwatch, a deep dive into the issue of sexual harassment in Overwatch voice chat, an unintentionally hilarious infographic showing the most popular Overwatch characters in each state, a criticism of Blizzard's failures in its design of Symmetra and a dive into a cool trend on Tumblr that converts your most-played heroes into a psychedelic illustration.