Blizzard recently announced that Overwatch League teams eliminated from the playoffs in Hawaii would have the chance to test out Overwatch 2's new game mode and give feedback to developers.
"Push" is a highly-anticipated new competitive game mode in Overwatch 2, the Overwatch sequel (or extension) nobody in the community asked for but somehow won't stop asking about. Coming in 2022, the game's release is coming closer and closer and fans are itching to know more about Overwatch 2's new game modes, heroes, maps, and cosmetics.
In the Push mode, teams will battle to take control of a robot that starts in the center of the map with the goal to drive it all the way to the enemy base. Either team can take control of the robot throughout the match and the squad that pushes it the farthest into enemy territory wins.
Push is even more exciting because Overwatch 2 is changing how the game is played, moving from 6v6 to 5v5 battles. Current Overwatch teams usually consist of two heroes per role (i.e. two DPS, two tanks, and two supports), but Overwatch 2 will allow only one tank per composition.
In a recent interview with Inven Global's Aaron Alford, Overwatch League pro Blake "Gator" Scott said: "I get the whole tank idea. A lot of people don’t want to play tank, and it makes them a lot easier to balance. Plus, you can make the tank generally a lot more fun too, if it's not just a meat shield or something. It will also make the other roles have a bigger individual impact on the game. Right now, you are so reliant on your team and tanks, it’s just a circle of everyone relying on everyone. I think if they do 5v5 right, it could change that some and end up good."
This is definitely interesting insight and there will most likely be even more discussion from pros after they have the opportunity to play Push in Hawaii. But that also brings up my main point: How valuable is the opinion of the OWL pros? And does anyone even care about their insight?
It's not the OWL that Blizzard should be polling
Blizzard claims there are 10M active Overwatch players a month. While this is highly disputable, it's a safe assumption that the numbers are still in the seven figures. Out of those millions, only about 170 are OWL players. If we count all pro players, then the number maybe goes up to a thousand. That's 0.01% of the alleged 10M players.
The vast, vast majority of people playing Overwatch are not playing it at a pro level. Most people playing Overwatch aren't even top rank.
When GOATS overtook OWL in 2019, every single match came down to the exact same six-hero mirror, over and over, and over again. If any team attempted to break out of this meta with a Reaper or Widowmaker, they were basically pummeled into submission and forced to come back with GOATS to even have a sliver of a chance.
Meanwhile, competitive Overwatch outside of the OWL still saw almost every hero composition being played with various levels of success. Even in higher ranks, GOATS wasn't a mandatory meta and there was still flexibility to some extent when it came to strategy and hero selection. That's because there is a wider range of skill levels that still allows for experimentation and rewards players who grind a certain hero, even if they aren't meta.
At the very top of the game — i.e. the Overwatch League — the skill margin is so small that not abiding by the strongest meta creates too much of a setback for even the most talented team in most cases. And this is why we saw GOATS for months on end.
So why does Blizzard need feedback about Push from the Overwatch League? Why is it wise for the 0.01%, who are conditioned to optimize strategies and play only the very best, to test a new game mode that has to appeal to millions, more so with the game's future and popular appeal at stake?
While I don't think it's wrong to ask pros about their experience playing Push, touting this concept around like it matters to the general Overwatch population is strange. The real test for 5v5 and Push will be an alpha or beta that includes players of all skill levels.
Overwatch League pros represent too small a group for their experience to mean anything to the wider Overwatch audience. Their feedback will be naturally skewed because it takes a certain specific view of the game to be that good at it. Gator's quote from above might be interesting and juicy but what he thinks about 5v5 most likely won't reflect my own — or most of the other millions' — experience in the game.
Of course, I want Overwatch League to be fun and interesting. I want it to be dynamic and exciting. I want it to showcase the pros' incredible skills. So yes, I clearly want them to play Push and discuss their experience. But do I believe their feedback truly matters to the game at large? No, not at all.
Get the true player base in —those who aren't paid a fat salary to grind the game.
Esports writer and editor with a passion for creating unique content for the gaming community.