The “slow death” of Overwatch has been one of the regular subjects of discussion in the broader esports community, though it seems nobody really wants to admit it… yet. Unfortunately for the fans, season viewership numbers are confirming Overwatch’s grim new reality. 

According to recently-published measuring data by industry experts Esports Charts, the 2020 edition of the Overwatch League season lost nearly a full half of its audience compared to the 2019 season. The OWL Grand Finals 2020 event, for instance, was particularly hit with a heavy 61.4% drop in average viewers from the previous year. 

The knee-jerk reaction by pundits has been to blame the COVID-19 crisis for the problem, however, there are other important factors influencing OWL’s comatose condition of recent times. Before we continue with the report, let us take a look at some of the latest betting odds provided by our friends at esports hub LevelUp.bet

Overwatch – Professional Association – Betting Odds*

October 25th, 2020

1:00 AM ETFour Angry Men-102VSEHOME-125
4:00 AM ETFour Angry Men-625VSTeam MagMa+437
7:00 AM ETPSG.LGD-417VSTeam Aster+309

*Odds are subject to change. 


Too Many Problems

Granted. The shift from live/unstreamed bit-time competitions to the virtual, distance-safe format of the ongoing COVID-19 times has played a relevant role in the OWL’s fall in popularity, but, believing that to be the only reason would be the totally-deluded thing to do. Even though the Overwatch League has only had three active seasons (2018, 2019 and the 2020 that just ended,)  the ratings have shown a trend towards a steady decline from the very start, and I don’t remember any Chinese viruses spreading out back in 2018.

For starters, many OWL fans felt disinclined to make the switch from Twitch to Youtube for last season; you can’t possibly expect to migrate a whole community of users into a different platform overnight, especially if said platform has been known for applying senseless censorship whenever they feel like it (*wink, wink.) Added to that, the family of first-person shooters has expanded over time, and Blizzard’s Overwatch is beginning to look a little dated in the eyes of regular players. Valorant, for one, has been snatching up players of that type for a while now… Just saying!

On a brighter side, numbers did actually show a little bit of improvement in Korea, where the broadcast saw a 27% increase from 2019. So there, maybe you ought to learn Korean if you wanna keep playing Overwatch online in the future. #SorryNOTSorry

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