With 2018 drawing to a close, we've asked some friends to look back on the past year in esports and share their stand-out moments. Here's Overwatch analyst Sascha “Yiska” Heinisch with his thoughts on the past 12 months and hopes for 2019
What was the high point of the year?
From an Overwatch point of view it was the start of the Overwatch League. An ambitious endeavour that would finally put most of the best talent in the World into one place after a long drought of offline events with the ultimate goal to bring a professional team to a city near you. Storylines converged while teammates of old divided, raising exhilarating questions, manifesting in twelve teams with a palpable drive for glory.
And the low moment of 2018?
Despite the immoral and at times illegal behaviour of certain individuals in the league, the clean answer here is the increasingly dragging off-season. The pacing of content felt maladapted to the events in Blizzard’s portfolio.
I hope 2019 at the very least delivers a vision for the future of the game
The Allstars event came at a time where most viewers experienced serious fatigue and had just witnessed the climax of the final. With the forced finals at Blizzcon for the World Cup in early November, a three-month drought of OWL content with only team events and Contenders to last us over to the start of the season as well as an unfortunately dull state of the game, engagement took a nosedive.
Storyline of the year?
A complete rookie joins the league on a team that’s projected to do very well but he certainly is one of the big question marks. He’s the only player for his position on the roster and we only know him from his performances on the South Korean ranked ladder and his streams. Never has he played on a serious Overwatch team before.
As the season develops, this rookie’s team becomes the most dominant force in the league ultimately finishing the regular season in first place. But he isn’t a liability or just hanging on, he turns out to be the best player of his team and it’s not even a debate. This player is so far above his peers that he reimagined the role for the entire league to imitate, yet no one could reach. He is carrying from a support role, outdamaging his DPS players on many-a-map. Finally, he’s voted by a panel of experts to be the season 1 MVP. This is the legend of JJoNak.
What were you playing and watching in 2018?
I played Overwatch, though with decreasing enthusiasm. Other games I enjoyed were CSGO and League of Legends and I tried to keep up with most of the big tournaments happening in those three scenes. If I do watch other streams, it’s mostly variety and here I especially enjoyed God of War.
What would you like to see in 2019?
From an Overwatch point of view, the current numbers spell a grim tale for content creators and players alike. I hope 2019 at the very least delivers a vision for the future of the game, not just the esport. Viewership acquisition is still the easiest within the player base and for that Overwatch needs to develop systems that drive long-term interest with the game.
As it stands, a more realistic wish might be to ask for a new game which not only is able to develop a lasting draw but also keeps esports values of competitive integrity and appreciation of skill in mind.