The coach for Lunatic-Hai, perhaps the best Overwatch team in the world, spoke at length about various perceived shortcomings of Blizzard when it comes the handling Overwatch.
Chae “alwaysoov” Ho-jeongconducted Thursday a two hour AMA on his Twitch channel, and he earnestly shared his opinions about Overwatch and Blizzard’s management. According to a translation from Reddit user TISrobin311 (that’s been verified by Slingshot), there is an inherent distrust of Blizzard from the teams that are part of the Korean eSports Association.
“Why do you think orgs like SKT, KT and Samsung are so hesitant to invest in Overwatch? It’s exactly because they know too well how Blizzard works,” he said. “They’ve known how Blizzard handles e-sports for decades. KeSPA orgs absolutely do not trust Blizzard after witnessing how it failed in organizing past esports games where they’ve invested in it for the past 20 years…They will never invest until they have 100 percent conviction and assurance that Blizzard will not fuck up another esport again.”
Alwaysoov said a handful of issues hamper Overwatch, one of which is centered in the developer’s release of new heroes. He said there are startling parallels between Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm, a Blizzard game that has largely failed as an esport.
Like HotS, Overwatch enjoyed massive hype in the closed beta but has released new heroes at a slow pace despite the nature of a game that needs character and gameplay diversity as quickly as possible. In one year since its release, only three characters have been added to the roster: Ana, Sombra, and Orisa.
For Alwaysoov, the solution in Korea is custom game modes. He pointed out that after some investigation, more people are migrating to custom games as they can change the way the game functions, allowing them to play characters they normally can’t. They’re no longer shackled to a stagnant meta and are free from trolls that make the game less enjoyable.
On the competitive level, the lack of new heroes and the balance patches are doing a number on professional players. The small pool of characters with imbalance has created a single meta with little variation, increasing the speed of burnout. Alwaysoov said he sympathized with the plight of Timo “Taimou” Kettunen of Team EnVyUs because his players are going through the same struggles.
“Every single one of Lunatic-Hai’s members is also starting to lose interest in the game, and I was pretty shocked considering they had played Overwatch all the time, even when hackers were rampant in Overwatch Season 3 and 4,” he said. “They are beginning to tell me that they’re tired of this patch that’s been around for what feels like eternity, and they want a change. ”
Even with the existence of tournaments like OGN APEX in Korea, Blizzard leaves much to be desired. Small organizers or local tournaments are impossible to set up as they individually need Blizzard’s permission and Alwaysoov said Blizzard has refused that to anyone outside of a select number of tournaments. Even APEX had to jump through hoops, he said.
“In APEX Season 2, you have no idea how many conditions and restrictions stated by Blizzard OGN and pro teams had to go through in order to manage the tourney from the beginning to the end,” he said. “Obviously I can’t reveal the details here, but so many offline events, fan services, and mini-tourneys have been cancelled because they didn’t fit the preference of Blizzard. If those had all become available, APEX Season 2 would have been 100 times more successful than it had been months ago.”
It’s been a less than stellar week for Blizzard, as on top of the stream from Lunatic-Hai’s coach, LDLC offered some harsh criticism of Blizzard in an announcement about dropping its Overwatch teams. Further, a South Korean professional player said he would start playing Counter-Strike on the side because he was uncertain about Overwatch’s future.