What Is Overwatch? A Quick Explainer On Your New Favorite eSports Game

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The Overwatch League has not had an ideal start to their third season. With COVID-19 impacting the entirety of the world, many of their teams have had their live events canceled. All of their teams based in Asia have yet to play a match and many of their west coast-based United States teams have only played one or two games at most. All live events through April are canceled, but on the plus side, there will still be matches. The beauty of eSports is they can all be played online if done correctly and that’s exactly what the Overwatch League will do starting in late March.

We’re all self-isolating right now, and one of the worst parts is most live sports are suspended, but that’s where Overwatch League comes in. But what if you haven’t watched the Overwatch League before, or what if you haven’t played Overwatch before? We wanted to help, and below, you can find some basic details on the game.

What is Overwatch?

Most Overwatch League viewers will have, at the very least, played the game before. In fact, if you have any interest in the league at all, it’s safe to assume you’ve played the game before. But for the few out there that would like to use Overwatch League as a chance to see if Overwatch is right for them, or if they just want to watch some sports, here’s a basic explanation of the game.

Overwatch is a team based first person shooter with two teams of six divided into three roles. Each team will have two heroes (characters) who specialize in damage known as DPS, two heroes that specialize in taking damage known as tanks, and two heroes that specialize in support/healing. Every character in the game has a move known as an ultimate — think of these like you would pro wrestler’s finishing moves. They can range from something that’s meant to do a ton of damage in a short amount of time, healing the entire team at once in a huge burst, protecting the team, or disabling the opposing team in some capacity. There are other varieties of ultimates and how effective they are will depend on how the player use them, but those are typically the four general uses of them.

The goal for these two teams usually surrounds an objective of some kind. There are four game modes: Control, Escort, Hybrid, and Assault.

Control

In a control map, two teams of six will attempt to take over a specifically marked area of the map and hold on to it for a period of time. Whoever reaches the allotted period of time first wins.

Escort

On an escort map, the teams are divided into offense and defense. The team on offense will attempt to move a vehicle known as the payload to three specific locations on the map. Each delivery is worth one point and they have a limited time to do it. Every time they deliver the payload to a point, they will gain extra time. The defense’s job is to stop them from delivering the payload and use up as much time as possible. After the offense has either delivered to all three points or run out of time, the two sides will switch. Whoever has the most points at the end of the two rounds wins. Think of it kind of like football.

Hybrid

Hybrid is a mix of control and escort. On a hybrid map, it’s once again split into offense and defense, but the offensive team will first have to take control of a singular point for an allotted period of time. Once they do that, they will then be given a payload to escort to two more points across the map. Then, the two sides flip.

Assault

Assault maps are kind of like a mix of hybrid and control maps. Once again, both teams will be split into offense and defense with the team on offense trying to overtake a set control point on the map. Once they have taken over that spot for the allotted time, they then have to take over a second point, but the second point is typically far more difficult to capture because the team that is on defense usually has a better geographical advantage on that map. After the round, the two sides flip. This map can either be really high scoring or very low scoring depending on the kind of assault map it is and how skilled the two teams are.

And that’s the general basics of Overwatch. There are definitely some deeper aspects to it such as metas, hero pools, map pools, etc. that take place in the more competitive side of it. To learn about those, the best way is to tune into an Overwatch League broadcast, try to absorb as much as possible, and see if you like it. If you do, then sit back and enjoy one of the most fast pace and exciting eSports out there.

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