2018 is set to be a pivotal year for eSports. Not just because there is a wide range of exciting tournaments taking place, but rather as it is the year that it is expected to take its first steps into the mainstream. This isn’t just conjecture – a lot of money has been poured into eSports from television networks and big business. They will expect results.
The eSport which has been given the most high-profile ‘boost’ is Overwatch. The newly formed Overwatch League (OWL) starts in January and will run right through to July. It will feature 16 teams, all of which have been purchased – in the same manner as NFL team – by an owner. These owners include Comcast Spectator (owner of NHL side Philadelphia Flyers) and Kraft Group (owner of NFL side New England Patriots). However, eSports organisations have also got in on the action, with Team EnVyUs and NRG eSports also buying teams.
The best way for OWL to be successful is to have some high-octane, competitive matches. The good news is that they have signed up the best Overwatch players in the world to take part. These will include Ryu Je-hong (ryujehon), who is currently ranked number one in the world.
Several Teams Have Big Chances of Winning OWL
Just how competitive will those matches be? The bookmakers cannot seem to split the top two teams, Je Hong’s Seoul Dynasty and London Spitfire. Both teams are made up solely of South Korean players. London Spitfire are just about the favourites in the odds at 2/1 (Betway), with Seoul Dynasty a fraction behind at 11/5. Other teams in with a decent shout include New York Excelsior and Dallas Fuel. The latter is owned by Team EnVyUs. If you fancy some big odds for the tournament, you can find San Francisco Shock at 40/1 and Boston Uprising at 50/1.
There will be lots of chances for betting on OWL because the schedule is stacked. Matches will be played each week, Thursday through Sunday, over the next five months. Things should get really interesting in June when the Playoffs get going. Several UK bookmakers will be offering odds on every match of OWL, as well as the outright odds mentioned above. If you want to discover more, you can start betting on eSports here.
OWL Holds All the Ingredients to Succeed
OWL has been a couple of years in the making. The main goal from the backers of the league is to make it akin to a regular sports season. In fact, they are even planning an All-Star Weekend, which will feature the best players from different teams in the same manner as the MLB or NBA All-Star games.
The fact that billionaire businessmen from the NFL and other sports are backing the venture suggests that the marketing for the event will be slick. However, what will that mean for eSports? Will the gameplay and action – the very reason gamers watch eSports – suffer as a result of unnecessary pageantry around the events? The early signs are that will not be the case. So, hopefully, OWL brings eSports to a new legion of fans, without losing touch with its gamer routes.