Overwatch and Fortnite are most important games in esports right now. Although different genres, their respective companies esports aspirations are massive and inherently in competition with each other. Both Blizzard and Epic are looking to push the esports industry to greater heights, but today's announcement of the Fortnite World Cup revealed key differences in their methodology and guiding beliefs.
For example, check out this not-so-subtle call out in Epic's official announcement page:
"This is for you, the players. Qualifications for the Fortnite World Cup will be based on merit. Epic will not be selling teams or franchises, and won’t allow third-party leagues to do so either."
No league buy-ins, no big franchises -- just player's qualifying no their skills alone.
This is a far cry from OWL's regional franchises that infamously required a $20 million dollar buy in. This system allowed for a team like the Shanghai Dragons (who still haven't won a single match) to exist in the first place. See, whoever bought China's spot chose which players made the team. This left some of the best Chinese players out of the league for reasons other than "merit".
The tone Epic takes in their announcement seems to doubles down on how different Fortnite esports will be from other big leagues. In another sentence lifted from their official announcement, the favorable comparison Epic creates between The Fortnite World Cup and leagues like OWL (and the LCS, for that matter) is hard to miss:
"We’ll be supporting community organized events, online events, and major organized competitions all over the world, where anyone can participate, and anyone can win...whether you’re in the competition or watching at home, we want this to be fun for everyone"
Overwatch has channeled all the trimming and feel of "the big leagues" by highlighting regional teams and encouraging rivalries that resemble traditional sports franchises. Their players have to live up to a professional standard in both their on-stage and off-stage behavior. Simply put, the Overwatch League is less about fun and more about accomplishment, greatness, and esports glory.
But, the Fortnite World Cup doesn't see to channel any of that "elite pro-gamer" feeling with this announcement. Instead, Epic relies on unusually casual language -- as if it is normal to invest $100 million dollars just so everyone can have a good time. If Fortnite ever creates a league of their own, will it share this same appeal? It seems likely.
Considering Fortnite's wacky aesthetic and non-serious tone, it is possible that a not-so-serious esports experience is in the titles best interest.
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