Game Time! Head of Overwatch League Sean Miller Talks 5th Season, Getting into the “influx of new players”

SAN ANTONIO – The new Tech Port Center Arena recently took part in the “Battle for Texas” where two teams from Houston and Dallas competed in the new release of Overwatch 2. Playing for the first time since 2020, The Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel went head-to-head kicking off the season with Overwatch 2’s new 5v5 format. Thousands of gaming fans visited the arena to watch the two teams compete on May 6 while some even tuned in live on the Overwatch YouTube stream.

There are plenty of questions over the shift from a 6v6 to 5v5 when it comes down to the Overwatch League’s new format full of dynamic plays and players. How will Overwatch 2 impact the league’s entirety and what is there to uncover?

Head of Overwatch League Sean Miller spoke with The Daily Campus on the smooth transition of stepping into what the league will consist of.

What are the plans for this Overwatch League season?

This season we’re entering a new era of Overwatch. We’re entering a new era of the league. We’re coming back to live events. We have three tournaments and a post season coming up that will follow a very similar format to last year where we have 20 teams participating across the globe, seven in the Asia region or the East and 13 here in the West. Just super excited about Dallas Fuel hosting one of those tournaments coming up here in June, and lots to be excited for.

What are your expectations for the Dallas Fuel and Houston Outlaw matches in San Antonio? (April 27, 2022)

I am expecting a really good match. I think one of the cool things about the switch to 5v5 in Overwatch is that it’s really like presenting a whole series of unknowns in terms of how teams are going to be this year. We can all make our theories and our assumptions on Doha, if he’s going to pop off, things like that. It’s such a white space right now, and so who’s going to win between that match? I don’t know. They have incredible rosters, but Danteh is one of my favorite streamers to watch. He’s so good, so incredibly talented, but then you got SP9RK1E on the Dallas Fuel, and with the switch to 5v5 I think the DPS in this individualistic impact on the game is going to be heightened. I’m just expecting a great matchup.

Photo credit: Peter Chau © 2022 Blizzard Entertainment, Inc

We can expect only a change in utilization when it comes down to the pros adjusting to the reworks and new features. What do you think sets Overwatch 1 apart from Overwatch 2?

The 5v5 it’s more dynamic, but I’d say that it’s the one tank. It’s not even the switch down to one less person specifically, as a player, it;s down to one tank, which adds a lot more viewability because you have a little bit more streamlined approach in many ways, but also opportunities to flank and have individual players show their skills. I think the strategies we’re all going to see this year from these pros are going to be so varied and the meta is going to change. The metas that balance philosophy of the Overwatch dev team is going to fluctuate, and we’re going to see the one hero – say Orisa is going to be strong or weak during week Three of kickoff clash, but Week Four could very well be that Doom is the best tank now. I think between those two things, it’s just going to be a lot more dynamic and frankly a lot easier to watch.

Given that this year is going to be such an important year for the Overwatch League, considering that now we have Overwatch 2, the switch from a 6v6 to 5v5, and a live person event. What does the entirety of the OWL mean to you and how are you getting to word out to the Overwatch community as well as adjusting to the preparation for all the teams?

This has obviously been in the works with many, many people for months now. It’s such a monumental day for the franchise for the Overwatch game as well as the league in terms of breaking our own Blizzard viewership records on Twitch. We hit 1.4 million as high as I could see, it might be higher. We were number four trending on Twitter the day Overwatch 2 released, and just the amount of hype and resurgence of this game has been phenomenal. And that has been such a long time coming. The game has been on a journey since the last few years in terms of the decision released a couple of months ago where Aaron Keller mentioned that they were diverting the path and taking separate paths between PvE and PvP. As far as what that means for the league, for teams, we’re not advising them on any strategies, but we’re preparing them on rule sets, how the game works, how they’re now going to communicate in game, all the matchday operations, and a big heavy lift earlier was getting the stats integrated, so working with the developed and the engineers to make sure that when for example “Orisa lands a javelin, when fat lands a javelin with Orisa,” then you’re going to be able to have those updated stats and have them available in broadcast. I’d say the last big thing is a fair amount of work where everybody that is involved in the game has had sufficient time to play and watch the game in terms of presentation, and making sure that they have enough time to play it, watch it, watch scrims, all those things are ongoing, and I think we’re going to be as ready as we can because on May 5, we’re going to put on an awesome show.

What do you think feedback will be like for the league, and how has feedback been since the new release of Overwatch 2?

So feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive from both the community and the players. The players participated in the alpha about a month or so ago. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve personally ever seen at this league where players and the development team were all collaborating in real time, all the time. There are changes being made very quickly, and overall, their feedback has been great. The player and content creator feedback has been great. It’s so cool today to see so many huge streamers – Dr. Disrespect is playing and Pokimane is playing today, just so many big names coming back to Overwatch or starring Overwatch for the first time. Their feedback has been positive, and I think that feedback is going to carry through.

Outside of the league, what do you think growth will be like when it comes down to streamers and getting the word out to the public to grow Overwatch as a whole?

For the league, what we want to make sure we do is get in the influx of new players. We want to make sure that we are educating them, that we’re making it easy for them to watch, that we are making it as welcoming as a place to be as a candidate. It’s a game that’s been out for five years, and now we just got a new one. There’s a pretty big and grand community already, and we want to make sure that the community and pieces of content we’re producing and working with the Overwatch team on are accessible and friendly to the newcomers to make sure that the on ramp to be a fan of the Overwatch League is as gentle as possible.

Anything else you would like to share?

Living in Dallas, having a local team that is so close to SMU really presents such an awesome opportunity for the readers of The Daily Campus – having the opportunities to get engaged with the Dallas Fuel and even ENVY more broadly for esports are so great. They’re phenomenal work. Being able to go to this event the first weekend in June is going to be an incredible opportunity, and I really, really hope that as many people as possible take advantage of it.