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

I'm Gabriel - 19 year-old dental student attending university working as a part-time esports journalist. I've been doing this for 3 years now. Having worked with GMR Entertainment in the past, I've come on board to write some articles this summer :).

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Content Writing for GMR Entertainment - An Experience

The following is a crash course and personal opinion behind the work of content writing.  Hi there! I'm Gabriel Sciberras and I've written over 600 articles for GMR Entertainment in total and this will actually be my last article this summer. Accordingly, the following is an opportunity for me to discuss the position, educate anybody curious and possibly persuade anybody to experiment. Here's my experience working with GMR Entertainment.  My History with GMR Entertainment  It all started back in 2016, as I turned 16 and geared up for my Chemistry O'level exam. Bored out of my mind, scrolling through Facebook aimlessly landed me onto an advert by GMR Entertainment stating 'content writer wanted'. At the age of 16, obsessed with gaming and tech paid with a knack for writing, I took my chance and dived into the position with no prior experience whatsoever. 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Communicate only if you're really passionate for writing and putting your ideas out there - don't do this thinking about money from the get-go - that's not the right attitude to have and it won't get you far. Focus on producing good content and the rest will follow.  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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