On October 20th, I had the opportunity to attend the Overwatch California Cup in Santa Ana. It was an incredible event full of competitions, camaraderie, merchandise, and a taste of what’s to come for the Overwatch League. It’s unbelievable how much this esports league has grown within the first year of its inauguration. And it feels that the best is yet to come.
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Valiant
The California Cup
The Los Angeles – San Francisco rivalry has existed throughout sporting history. It appears in baseball, football, basketball, and now, esports. On October 20th, the Los Angeles Valiant faced off against the San Francisco Shock for the title of the California Cup. And it was the perfect game to highlight the next season of the Overwatch League. The matches themselves were riveting and challenging. The LA Valiant and SF Shock truly brought their all to this competition; each round practically went into overtime. The last remaining seconds on the clock determined the winner. Ultimately, it was the LA Valiant who took the California Cup. There is truly nothing more invigorating and fun than watching esports for a game you love, in an arena with people who share that same love. It’s also inspiring to see a team successfully escort a payload (something I can never get done as successfully in Overwatch‘s Quick Play mode).
The venue that held the event was the Santa Ana Esports Arena: an Esports venue that opened in 2015 to host various esports events in the Southern California region. The California Cup was paired with an LA Valiant Block Party on the streets outside the venue. Fans could grab treats, take photos at photo ops, play games, and have a fun afternoon with other Overwatch League fans and LA Valiant teammates alike! This fan outreach and camaraderie are what I truly admire about the LA Valiant. Without the fans, the Overwatch League wouldn’t be what it is today. Likewise, teams like the LA Valiant make sure to include those fans in special events like the LA Valiant Block Party, the Girls in Gaming Summit, and more.
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Valiant
Additionally, the LA Valiant used the California Cup to debut some new merch for their upcoming season. The apparel ranges from long-sleeved shirt to collegiate attire. Personally, I love the yellow LA Valiant shirt. With more and more people discovering the Overwatch League, it’s no surprise that each team is creating and releasing new merchandise for fans. Moreover, as we move into the League’s Second Season, I believe we’ll see even more fan dedication and support. Will the team YOU love and support be the Overwatch League champions? Only time will tell. They always say the second weekend of a box office is when you truly see how well a movie is performing. After the initial weekend, the audience has time to tell others to either see or avoid the film. Similarly, I’m sure we can expect a bigger turnout in the next year for the Overwatch League.
The Next Year for the Overwatch League
With the addition of the six new League teams (Chengdu, Hangzhou, Paris, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C.), one can only imagine the numbers of new fans that will hear and join the League. Additionally, I bet we can expect to see more League games played in new arenas around the world. Just as the California Cup was bringing viewers to a new venue, I believe that the Overwatch League will be not just limited to the Blizzard Arena in Burbank over the next year. Someday, Houston Outlaws fans can watch their team play in their home state. Rather than simply being limited to watching online. With this, the League will physically reach more people and new fans as well. The Overwatch League simply won’t be a game you catch on Twitch anymore. It will be a game you can attend locally, or watch on other televised networks (ESPN, Disney XD, etc).
Overall, it’s truly inspiring to be living in this exciting era for esports. The growth, communities, and cultural knowledge of esports that have all come from the success of the Overwatch League remains astounding. And personally, with all of this growth, I cannot wait to see the continued addition of women to various teams in the Overwatch League. If you’re curious about esports or haven’t watched an Overwatch League match, I highly suggest you do. The future is bright for competitive gaming. Cheers to another amazing season of the Overwatch League, and let’s go LA Valiant!
Photo Credit: Adam Hlavac