The success of Overwatch League was skeptical as soon as it was announced. As of June 1 of 2018, all tickets for the Overwatch League Grand Finals have been sold out. This means a lot for the world of esports and in this short article, I will go into detail about what this means for the community.
The Grand Finals Venue
First of all, the location of the first ever Grand Finals is something unique to the Overwatch League. Throughout the inaugural season, the only venue we’ve seen is the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles. For people across the world who watch the league, it’s a downer to realize how hard it is to get tickets and accommodation for Los Angeles. In general, people on the eastern side of the States couldn’t make it. Blizzard knew this, and they decided to have the Grand Finals in a different venue entirely.
This new venue is the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. This not only makes it easier for fans to attend on the eastern side, but the size of the arena itself is larger. The capacity of the Barclays Center is only 19,000, but with floor seats, it adds up to over 20,000. With a recent post from Activision and Blizzard, they confirmed that it sold out.
For people who don’t know what the Barclays Center is, it’s a stadium in Brooklyn that currently hosts the New York Islanders hockey team and Brooklyn Nets basketball team. While it is the first ever branch out from the Overwatch League, them selling it out is great. It can do nothing but help the community, bringing in crowd chants and finally a new home team.
What does this mean for esports?
It means more than you think. Overwatch League was and is the world’s first major global, city-based esports league. Having this connection to cities as well as players gives more weight to wins. Bragging rights and city-based pride are two big benefits. While other esports leagues have teams that can represent countries, Overwatch League is closer to the sports we’ve come to know across the world. Much like soccer, hockey, and basketball, the teams’ localization towards cities adds to the fanbases. Whether it be the voice actors of the Overwatch heroes supporting their cities, or just longtime supporters from the early days, it adds a lot. City-based rivalries from other sports tend to move into this one too, much like Boston/New York.
With this event getting sold out almost two months away from the date, it really shows how popular Overwatch League has actually become. Even though people were skeptical on Overwatch having a successful competitive league, the concurrent 100,000 viewers each day on Twitch and the Grand Finals selling out confirms it. I was one of those 20,000 to get tickets. I will write about the event in a few articles on this website. That will include a recap of those two days and a more personal recollection of key moments, and I personally can’t wait to see the sold-out crowd.