The Descent of Overwatch in Malta

Overwatch is a game which has seen and is still witnessing today, a phenomenal amount of growth in the esports industry. It feels just like yesterday when gamers first got their hands on this new approach to the first-person-shooter genre. The summer of 2016 was the trial period of Overwatch, which exceeded expectations internationally and locally to continue on its current run. Yet, if we magnify the situation on a local scale, it's quite clear that things aren't as they used to be.

Throughout this article, we'll be discussing the untimely fall of Overwatch through the lens of Maltese esports. A similar article was done concerning the situation of Dota 2 in Malta, which you can visit here. However, Overwatch cannot be compared to Dota 2 in terms of lifespan. If we should consider Dota 2 to be the car that never started, then Overwatch is the brand new car which lost its wheels after a short while.

From the past two paragraphs, I've given a clear indication that Overwatch did, in fact, have a start. So, how did this come about? As mentioned, Maltese gamers were quite thrilled with the new title in May 2016, and we could feel this well-pronounced enthusiasm. This was all emphasised when top local organisations such as Project Eversio, Paradigm6 and EvH formed their own rosters. Thus, it was only justified to include it in the GO Malta eSports Festival 2016. The reception was bursting with excitement as teams fought for the reasonable 1000 euro of cash prize on the line.

The energy for the new game in late 2016 was quite overwhelming and our following partnerships with The Malta Robotics Olympiad and AOC led to a couple more occasions for the Maltese Overwatch scene to compete in LAN events.  First, was The AOC MCS: Masters in October, where we lifted the prize pool up to 2000 euros and then came The MRO Overwatch: Open - a whole event dedicated to Overwatch.

Everything's going so well - we're loving the support from the community, the competition is heating up and the future looks bright. What happened next was completely unexpected, so much so, that we can't really explain it in concrete terms. It's early March 2017, we're already beginning to think about the rest of the year and the potential for Overwatch as a World Cup is announced and so many international events planned.  However, our next main event is in September in the form of the MCS#3. Sadly, the community wouldn't last until then.

EvH, Paradigm6 and Project Eversio amongst others, are examples of organisations that publically announced their retraction from Overwatch during this time frame. 

Why? How did this happen?

Interviewing Mike "z4mbu" Saliba last week indirectly revealed his insight on the situation. To summarise, we inquired about his reaction to the inclusion of COD2 in last year's events.

'At that time I was still playing Overwatch competitively. So the return of Call of Duty 2 was a shock in itself, as I realised that this would kill the current local Overwatch scene. However, I do not blame the organisers for reintroducing Call of Duty 2, since this was what the local gaming community was demanding at the time. '

Did bringing back COD2 harm the Overwatch scene? Possibly, since a considerable amount of ex-COD2 players did, in fact, abandon their position within their Overwatch rosters to make the transition. It was our decision to resurrect it from the dead, but we couldn't possibly expect such an outcome. Should we have revisited it or stuck with a new and modern title?

With Battalion 1944 on the way, following the above reasoning, the future of OW doesn't look too good. 

Then, there is the other argument which comes to mind. 'The community died because Gamers.com.mt didn't organise any events in that time period' or something of the sort is what we expect some to argue. A community and its passion for the game isn't defined by the number of events held for it, but by the drive of the participants to compete regardless the connection, offline or online. Right after hosting 2 events in three months, this does sound rather complacent.

Before ending the discussion, I'd like to include the opinion of EvH. While I was researching in preparation for this piece of content, confirmation regarding EvH and OW was required since they hadn't made it public. Before we knew it, we spiralled into a conversation where I got to hear their opinion.

 'I think one of the main reasons that they didn't stick with this game since it was a different genre of FPS from what they were used to playing such as CS:GO and Call of Duty. For example, Team Fortress was also a huge title which has the same style of Overwatch -it never succeeded in being a competitive title locally.' - Mike from EvH

EvH showed a lot of enthusiasm on the topic and we're glad they allowed us to include their opinion here. They also agreed with the points mentioned very much. 

To end, I'll offer my own personal opinion on the situation. Reintroducing COD2 and with Battalion 1944 on the horizon has indeed tugged on the nostalgia of many Maltese players as they abandon other titles in order to return to their roots. New players are what Malta needs in order to support new titles.

New players will have to pick up the pieces of the local Overwatch scene, where others left them.

Posted by Gabriel Sciberras on 6th February 2018, 09:07

Hi I'm Gabriel; 16 year old student. I've always loved gaming and esports while keeping up with the latest tech; Gamers.com.mt has allowed me to talk about this hobby on a daily basis for many of you to read after I applied to be a content writer. I'm excited to be part of the team and to contribute to the future of esports on the island, which is looking to be brighter than ever.

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First official LAN for Battalion 1944 Announced

The developers of Battalion 1944 have proudly announced their first ever official LAN event for the title on an international scale and we're more than excited to share the details with all of you. There is quite a large amount of pressure on this event, with expectations to fulfill - the first event is always one of the more difficult ones. With that being said, let's learn more about the Blitzkrieg Open Championship at Insomnia62.  Assuming part of the UK Masters at Insomnia62, Battalion 1944 will be present amongst other competitive titles and scene. Sponsored by "The Plays" as well as "Belong" by Game to rack up a total prize pool of roughly $13,000 after converting it from the British pound. Having an Open nature, this championship looks to be astronomically large, as 500 team tickets are patiently waiting to be bought online. Contesting teams will have the opportunity to battle it out on The Player Stage in the Grand Final of the event. Note that only the first four places will be awarded prize money, so the stakes are high to take home a sizable chunk. Apart from the prize money, the winning team will be given a Custom Gold Weapon Skin which is 1 of a kind, and also tradable. Other details such as casting talent and scheduling will be released eventually.  This event will take place on the weekend of March 30th up to April 2nd, bang in the middle of the Easter holidays. This LAN at Insomnia62 is only 1 of 4 which are planned for this year of Battalion 1944, with North America being targeted also. Ensure that you don't miss any of the action by watching the stream here. What are your thoughts? Will you be watching? Tell us in the comments section below. 

Paradigm6 Battalion 1944 Roster Shuffle

As we prepare our audience for the upcoming wave of Battalion 1944 competition with interviews and discursive content, players are busy grinding at an incredible rate and organisations are still making up their minds regarding their rosters for the title. One such example is Paradigm6, who released a statement about their team on the 16th of February here. Here's what you need to know.  Starting with the changes to the first team, it seems that Dominic ‘Got1ke’ Galea and Owen ‘SwATT’ Pace have decided to step down to reserve roles due to a lack of occupation, having work commitments holding them back. It's undeniably respectable that the two players do such a thing in order to not weigh down their team, lots of respect right here.  So, with this, one may easily deduce that some new names are aboard the first team. Although allegedly 'new', they are familiar faces. The first replacement is in the form of Kyle ‘crisis’ or 'kajl' Galea, there being instances where he's used either gamertag, and he'll be joining the team from the side of dOUBTFUL. With his former team, Kyle managed to achieve podium finishes in the two largest events of last year, placing 2nd at the MCS#3 and 3rd at the MESF 2017 - reputable victories to which he played a big part. However, he's been around far longer than that, having a rich history in COD2. This is why his name is so familiar to Paradigm6, as he formed part of the historical FuryGaming squad; winning our GamersLAN in 2012 and the KONNEKT MESF 2014 amongst other top 3 finishes. The veteran will be more than comfortable with Battalion 1944 in his hands.  The other player brought in to fill in the final hole is Got1ke's brother, Brady ‘xixxi’ Galea, who will be joining the first squad from HEQ GAMING. Xixxi also played under the FuryGaming banner multiple times making these two additions predictable. Before his current position, he was indeed a part of the Overwatch roster but due to the nature of COD2 (5v5), he participated with HEQ GAMING while always under Paradigm6.  The new roster consists of: Jeffrey ‘JeFf’ Spiteri  Daniel ‘sou1ex’ Cassar  Etienne ‘bullz’ Bonavia  Kyle ‘crisis’ Galea  Brady ‘xixxi’ Galea Bernard ‘B3rRij’ Pace We wish Paradigm6 the best for the coming year of competition.

Soulkilla and Bajju Interviewed - Reacting to Battalion 1944

Third time's the charm as they say; hence, we're back with the third batch of interviews of local professional players sharing their opinions on the upcoming Battalion 1944 title and thoughts about the past year of Call of Duty 2 competition. This time we'll be interpreting the views of Karl " soulkilla" Vella and Mario "Bajju" Aquilina, both local players who've contributed immensely to the most enticing competition. We'll start with "soulkilla", with his insightful replies below.  1.) To begin, we'll start with an introductory question to familiarise yourself with our readers. Please describe your history as an eSports player in Malta, having especial detail on your relationship with the title of Call of Duty 2.  My name is Karl Vella nickname "soulkilla". I've been part of the gaming community since Counterstrike 1.5 which I used to play at the first lan cafe I used to frequent against mostly foreigners. I first started playing online on Return to castle wolfenstein: Enemy Terrory, known as ET to most gamers. I had joined my first team which was called mepa (malte elite patriotic army) which had climbed to the top 5 teams in the clanbase EU ladders during the ET era. During that period Call of duty 1 had just been released and a mepa team was formed to compete locally. I had then moved from the Mepa team to join Xtc which is when we started playing competitively on Clanbase. When Call of duty 2 was released we witnessed a huge change in the Maltese gaming community which till that day was still a small community and everyone knew each other. The community started growing and an increase of young generation gamers (8years+) started showing on the local Maltese servers. Unfortunately, they were not the best days as the community seemed to become more aggressive between players than competitive. I had then formed 2 teams under mepa to participate in Call of duty two with names which are familiar to these days forming part of the team (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1457893759797&set=t.644019713&type=3&theater). The team was not as successful as our Enemy territory was but we had fun playing together as a team and giving other teams a good run for their money. 2.) Call of Duty 2 was resurrected in the community last year; as Gamers.com.mt re-introduced the game in the Malta Cyber Series #3 and the largest event of the year - the MESF 2017. What was your initial reaction to this inclusion? Looking back now, reveal your thoughts on Call of Duty 2 in 2017. I was disappointed as in my opinion Call of Duty 2 was where the series went downhill and the inclusion of that game meant that new games which had potential were replaced by a game which the only reason it was successful in the lan is that most of the gamers grew playing call of duty 2. If for example, a lan in malta would include ET which was my main game, I would be against the game being part of the MAIN games at the lan but it should only be a side game for some extra fun. I had given the crew at gamers my opinion when I heard about it and personally, I don't see why it was included by them for any other reason other than ticket sales. 3.) Gamers.com.mt is clearly eyeing Battalion 1944; the apparent successor to Call of Duty 2 in terms of gameplay and community feedback. Bringing it to our shores would definitely be interesting and relevant. What are your impressions of the new title, especially after the beta recently? Have you had the chance to play the game yet? Yes, I've had quite some time to play it and personally, I've enjoyed it and look forward to playing it competitively in Malta and against foreign teams. The first time I got to give it a try was in gamescom last year which was before the beta and I can say that there have been quite a lot of changes/improvements to the mobility and gun characteristics. 4.) Our last question. Bringing back Call of Duty 2 last year wasn't too attractive for youngsters starting out as individual competitors due to reason of aged mechanics and a fast-moving modern selection of games which would rather be played - but Battalion 1944 looks to change that with contemporary graphics alongside refurbished content. What potential do you see in the title for Malta? Personally I really wish to see the game being played as a Main game at the upcoming lans and wish to see it persist on for more than 2-3 lans. It is now up to the Organisers to create local competitions for the maltese community to get together and start forming teams. This will help our fellow gamers start to improve their skill in both teamwork and aim, which would eventually have a good chance of making our flag be seen in competitions online and foreign lan events.  I myself will be forming a team for this game with the goal of reaching the highest level possible along with my teammates but at the same time enjoying some good battles here at our lans.  I would like to thank you and the whole team at Gamers.com.mt for this opportunity. Wish you all happy fragging. Karl "soulkilla" Vella 

Maltese Player Competing For $50,000 This Weekend!

The Halo WC 2018 is heading to Orlando this weekend, putting $50,000 on the line for a whopping total of 96 teams to fight for it. These teams, originating from North America, Latin America, Europe and Oceania, are amongst the best in the world; that's what it will take to win here. The event will kick off the Halo World Championship; everybody's looking to start off on the right foot. If you're not too interested in Halo, we're sure that there is something which will peak your interest. Perhaps, the fact that our very own Luciano "Mose" Calvanico is in the mix with his top-tier team; Team Infused may prove to be enough? Team Infused are one of the favourites heading into this competition, having the top seed in Europe and just recently winning the 5th EU 2K - they're dangerously motivated to win this. The roster includes the names of "Mose", "Kimbo", "Respectful" and "Jimbo", four names that have earned themselves a strong reputation. Starting on Friday, February 15th, the action will saturate the whole weekend up to the 17th, and there is no doubt that the team will reach Championship Sunday. Like any other event, the WC Orlando Open will kick off with a group stage as demonstrated below.  Team Infused definitely do not have the easiest task of dominating the group stage. Facing off against North American teams such as Splyce and Mentality cannot be a guaranteed victory. Indeed, Team Infused has defeated these teams in the past, but the fact that they derive from another continent implies that the Red Army hasn't had much practice against them, which is an unfixed variable heading into these matches. Speaking of North America, when they do make it out of their group, further stiff competition awaits. Group A victors will match up against those of Group B. Either or, Optic Gaming and Renegades are surely going to proceed to these playoffs. At the moment, Optic Gaming is the undisputed top team in North America if not in the world after winning DreamHack Denver, while Renegades is far from a pushover. However, Optic Gaming is in no form without any blemishes, as they were dismantled, to the surprise of everybody, by Splyce at DreamHack Atlanta a while back. Who knows, maybe the Open Bracket teams could shake things up? Nonetheless, all these speculations and thoughts are simply hypothesis. Team Infused has been putting in an insane amount of work and are one of the most prepared teams for the event. This event being pivotal for the upcoming season of competitve Halo, as teams will fight for seeds and placements into upcoming tournaments which climax at the World Championships - the biggest prize pool with ludicrous stakes. That's what it's all about, this event is simply a stepping stone.  A big part of their victory will be the individual performances of all the talented players on the roster, including Luciano "Mose" Calvanico. We've had the chance to personally know Luciano, and we can confirm his determination and steely-eyed conviction for all competition alike, no matter how small. His Twitter is littered with incredible plays and highlights from the team's streams. We've also had the chance to interview "Mose", where we delved a little into his personal life and his thoughts in general about his involvement in the esports industry. You can update yourself here. Gamers.com.mt will be showing as much support as we can, but we can all do our part by heading over to the broadcasts this weekend including https://www.twitch.tv/halo, which is the mainstream or at the secondary station here: https://mixer.com/HCS.  You can also show your support in the comments section below; tell us what you think of Luciano's chances this weekend.  Let's go Luciano!

Muziq and PK Interviewed - Reacting to Battalion 1944

The hype train for Battalion 1944 is still leaving the station, and you all loved our last interview with some local competitors regarding the title. For those who managed to miss out, catch up here. With that being said, we figured that more interviews were needed to further increase coverage over the local opinions. Hence, today we've brought the opinions of Matthew "Muziq" Grima and Marco "PK" Bugeja  - a contrast between an ex-veteran and a lively player shaking things up as we speak. We asked them the same questions below.  We'll start with Matthew "Muziq" Grima.  1.) To begin, we'll start with an introductory question to familiarise yourself with our readers. Please describe your history as an eSports player in Malta, having especial detail on your relationship with the title of Call of Duty 2.  I honestly have no idea about when I started playing online, I must have been around 11 or 12 playing Quake II on a server hosted at the University of Malta with a couple of friends from school. I then jumped from game to game, mostly FPS. I had occasionally played Unreal Tournament Call of Duty 1 and CS 1.6, but not too frequently. When Call of Duty 2, everyone at MCAST IICT was talking about it, so I immediately got myself a copy and started joining Maltese public servers. I had joined up with a couple of guys from MCAST, mainly Bruce_Malti, and n0luck, we formed a clan called eR. From then on I jumped from one clan to the other until I found myself with s.M.u, the only clan which I played competitively with. During this time I had played some matches with Team Malta. Eventually, I had to cut my playing time a lot due to work and family commitments, especially with having a child at a rather young age. Eventually, I came back for a while and played some Clanbase wars with Rex, but it didn't last long as commitments took over again. 2.) Call of Duty 2 was resurrected in the community last year; as Gamers.com.mt re-introduced the game in the Malta Cyber Series #3 and the largest event of the year - the MESF 2017. What was your initial reaction to this inclusion? Looking back now, reveal your thoughts on Call of Duty 2 in 2017. Truth be told, I had no idea about this up until the event actually happened when I saw an ex-clanmate of mine Steven 'GunN3R' Silvio post about his team's win on Facebook. I immediately started remembering what playing the game was like. I joined a couple of Maltese facebook groups, got myself a new PC, and before you know it, I'm now playing again. The best thing about it is that I re-connected with a number of people I hadn't talk to in years, it also feels a bit weird hearing people call me by nickname :) 3.) Gamers.com.mt is clearly eyeing Battalion 1944; the apparent successor to Call of Duty 2 in terms of gameplay and community feedback. Bringing it to our shores would definitely be interesting and relevant. What are your impressions of the new title, especially after the beta recently? Have you had the chance to play the game yet? I've been playing the game quite a bit, played a bit of beta too. I bought it the moment it was available. It's still got a few rough edges, especially when it comes to sounds. But I've enjoyed it from the first time I played, probably because of the similarities with Call of Duty. It's very interesting to me; as I stated previously, I've connected with a number of old friends and also managed to play a couple of wars locally. 4.) Our last question. Bringing back Call of Duty 2 last year wasn't too attractive for youngsters starting out as individual competitors due to reasons of aged mechanics and a fast-moving modern selection of games which would rather be played - but Battalion 1944 looks to change that with contemporary graphics alongside refurbished content. What potential do you see in the title for Malta as a retired COD2 player?  Considering the number of games available, especially from big studios, the guys behind Battalion 1944 have some stiff competition. I'd expect with further updates and continuous support, the game would be much better and maybe attract more people. I believe that if local tournament organizers get behind the game, offer a couple public servers, and make the game the main attraction in a local tournament, interest would grow. I for one am hoping it succeeds. Hearing from "Muziq" after such a while is fantastic, and having a veteran's opinion is exactly what we need to move forward. 

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