Overwatch is one of the best and most popular competitive multiplayer first-person shooters out right now and it’s set to experience massive growth in the competitive esports scene in 2020. As Blizzard Entertainment’s flagship title for the past two years, serious money is being thrown around to give the game the proper limelight it needs to reach a wider global audience – and many betting sites have taken note and are offering more wagering options on every match.
With several mainstream sporting leagues, retired professional athletes and other notable executives investing heavily in the upcoming esports Overwatch League, there is no denying it is quickly getting the mainstream attention it deserves – so there is no better time than now to get familiar with the game’s format, rules, meta and the best players and teams currently leading the pack.
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Can I bet on Overwatch esports?
Overwatch is the type of game that can appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers and esports fans, so it pays to brush up on your basic gameplay knowledge so you can keep up with the fast-paced nature of the high-level play in the Overwatch League. Before you read on, we advise checking out our beginner’s guide to betting on esports to understand the odds and options available to you at this time and how to actually place a wager on your favourite Overwatch League team properly.
Ready to check out the best esports betting sites offering Overwatch esports markets? Visit our provided guide to find out which sportsbook accepts wagers on Overwatch esports events, including Overwatch League and other smaller regional tournaments.
Overview of the Overwatch League
The Overwatch League (OWL) is the professional eSports league for Overwatch, with its inaugural pre-season officially kicking off on December 6, 2017 and the official season beginning on January 10 through July 2018. The OWL was first announced at Blizzcon 2016 and is 100% organised and owned by Blizzard Entertainment, who are also the developer and publisher of Overwatch and several other popular esports titles, like Hearthstone, League of Legends and StarCraft II.
There are currently twelve teams in the Overwatch League, which you can read about more in the provided links to our special OW League guide. The inaugural season is structured similar to traditional North American professional sports leagues. All teams will play scheduled matches against each other for a top position in the season playoffs, which is different to the structure in other esports leagues where team promotion and relegation is more common.
You can watch live streams for free of every Overwatch League match on your computer, smartphone or tablet – find out where to the best Overwatch esports live streaming sites here.
Basics of Overwatch gameplay
Overwatch is a first-person shooter with a large emphasis on team play and entirely multiplayer focused, with both casual and competitive matches. What sets it apart from other popular shooters that have become esports is it’s not about just killing the other team more – every single game mode in competitive play requires the completion of key objectives as a team – so if you ever spot an overzealous competitive player going out on his own and not listening to their teammates, chances are that’s a wager to avoid completely.
Overwatch is both extremely accessible to pick up and play, yet difficult to master. The same thing applies for watching it as a competitive esport, because while understanding the map types, objectives and character classes in Overwatch is fairly straightforward and simple, without a basic scoreboard and more detailed spectator features currently implemented in-game it’s hard to keep track of every player on the field and the chaos that inevitably ensues in such a fast-paced, team-based game. Thankfully, the Overwatch League pre-season showed Blizzard had adequately prepared for their official esports effort with better player tracking and scoreboards so players could keep track of the action without shifting between cameras excessively, as in the past.
Below, we provide a basic run-down of every element of the average Overwatch game to make your OW esports viewing experience easier and your betting experience more informed – keep this page bookmarked as a handy reference in a separate tab to your OW League live-stream.
Heroes and objectives in Overwatch
In Overwatch, two teams of six go head-to-head on a variety of different maps and varied game modes. Each player chooses from a roster of 20+ characters or ‘heroes’, each with their own unique playstyles, abilities, movesets, pros and cons. Each hero also has an ‘Ultimate’ ability, which is a highly effective power charged during regular play and ideally unleashed at the time it’s most effective to use. Unlike many other multiplayer shooters, Overwatch allows players to switch heroes on-the-fly, meaning strategies and tactics in the typical esports OW match can change dramatically without much notice.
All heroes play incredibly differently and there’s very little overlap between abilities and playstyles. For example, Soldier 86 plays like the traditional offensive shooter class in any other competitive multiplayer video game, with an automatic rifle as his weapon and the straightforward ability to sprint across the map, heal himself with a and do increased damage with a well-placed rocket. Meanwhile, a character like Genji in the same ‘class’ as Soldier 86 (more explained about classes below) has shurikens for his weapon which require more precise timing and the ability to traverse high walls, deflect projectiles and slice his way through opponents with a quick dash.
It’s fair to say with the amount of patches and testing, OW is incredibly balanced compared to many other competitive multiplayer video games, which is a big reason for its popularity. The different strategies and counters that arise from such diverse team line-ups and the threats of each unique ultimate and the fact players can change up their play by swapping heroes at any moment make Overwatch a thrilling esport to watch via live-streaming sites, as well as bet on – which is why sportsbooks are taking more notice of the rapidly growing fan-base looking to place a wager on their favourite team or player.
Heroes and class types in Overwatch
Overwatch divides its 20+ character roster in four distinct classes, or roles: Offense, Defense, Tank and Support.
Offense: Used to inflict as much damage as possible to the opposing team. Usually are fast and able to get around the map efficiently, and can dish out high amounts of damage per-second, meaning the highest DPS (Damage Per Second) heroes are in this class. They have lower health pools than their counterparts and less creative abilities to offset their damage output. Some examples of heroes in this class include Pharrah, Soldier 86, Reaper and Tracer.
Defense: Used to set up mines, turrets, traps and plays which require a little more finesse and timing. They have more interesting abilities to counter their lower DPS than the offense class. Some examples of heroes in this class include Bastion, Hanzo, Mei, Junkrat and Widowmaker.
Tank: Used to absorb massive amounts of enemy damage or otherwise hold a strategic position due to their large health pool. Most heroes in this class have significant survivability if played properly but are large and slow, making them easy targets for everyone. Some examples of heroes in this class include D.va, Roadhog, Reinhardt and Winston.
Support: Used to support the team with buffing and healing abilities to increase survivability and minimise the amount of respawning required for the team to get back in the game. Low health pools and low DPS, but are able to heal and use creative abilities to keep attackers at bay. Some examples of heroes in this class include Ana, Lucio, Mercy, Moira, Symmetra and Zenyatta.
Winning teams always employ a balanced mixture of heroes from all four classes. The best players are always readily willing to switch characters mid-match whenever the need may arise – there’s nothing worse than watching a stubborn Hanzo or Widowmaker main who won’t swap heroes when sharpshooting is no longer a priority, for example, though thankfully these types of mistakes are never seen in high-level competitive OW esports.
Game types and maps in Overwatch
Overwatch has four different game formats with set maps for each type of match, called Assault, Control, Escort and Hybrid. In past Overwatch-sponsored esports events, teams play one match on each map type in the following preset order: Hybrid, Control, Assault and finally Escort. Higher seeded teams get to choose the first map, and the loser of each round gets to choose the following map.
Assault: For attacking teams, the objective of Assault is to capture two points on the map; the defending team must prevent them from capturing either points until the timer expires. Maps for Assault include Hanamura, Horizon Lunar Colony, Temple of Anubis and Volskaya Industries.
Control: The objective of Control is the same for both teams – one must capture a specific point in the center of the map. If one team captures the center, each second the point is uncontested awards the occupying team capture points. The first team to reach 100% wins the match, which has been played best out of 3 (rather than best of 5 in regular competitive online play) in past OW esports events. Maps for Control include Ilios, Lijiang Tower, Nepal and Oasis.
Escort: For attacking teams, the objective of Escort is to push the payload through the checkpoints on the map, with the timer extending if successful and the game ending if the final point is reached. The defending team must prevent them from pushing the payload forward to win the match. Maps for Escort include Dorado, Junkertown, Route 66 and Watchpoint: Gibraltar.
Hybrid: A mixture of both Assault and Control in that order. For attacking teams, the objective of Hybrid is split into two phases: They must first capture the point on the map, then escort the payload to the final point. The defending team must prevent the attacking team on each front from succeeding. Maps for Hybrid include Eichenwald, Hollywood, King’s Row and Numbani.
A winning team will always be prepared to swap up their line-up upon changing game modes, because not every character will suit the terrain or the objectives that each arena imposes. The likes of Widowmaker, for example, is wasted on Assault maps like Horizon Lunar Colony with all of its tight enclosed spaces on the first capture point, while Lucio may be incredibly useful on maps with plenty of places to be pushed off such as Ilios Lighthouse and Lijiang Tower.
Overwatch esports jargon and terminology
Most matches of competitive Overwatch will involve the rapid-fire use of many game-specific and community-created terms and slang. If you are serious about betting on your favourite Overwatch esports events and want an informed edge for your wagers, it’s best to brush up on the esports jargon prior to placing your bets so you can properly understand what’s going on in-play.
Boop – A player who uses Lucio to knock enemy players off a map’s boundaries using his special ability.
Carry – A player or players(s) protected by the team in order to deal the most damage to the opposition.
Deathball – When a team is crunched behind the shield of a tank hero, moving forward slowly as a unit until there is an opportunity to break through and scatter, which is a fairly uncommon play in esports-level Overwatch.
Discorded – A player who has been inflicted with Zenyatta’s useful Discord ability and who should be the focus of any good team’s efforts to eliminate.
Dive comp – When a team’s composition is made up of very mobile, aggressive heroes to quickly attack and overwhelm the other team’s enemy lines and distpatch the biggest threat on the field to scatter the rest – an alternative play to focusing on a choke-point and a very common play in esports-level Overwatch.
Hooked – A player who has been trapped by Roadhog’s Hook ability.
Nano – A player who has or wants to be boosted by Ana’s Ultimate ability.
Pharmercy – Two players on the same team playing as Mercy and Pharrah, a deadly combo due to Mercy’s damage boost ability and Pharrah’s ability to fly around the map and shoot from above.
Rez – When a player is resurrected or is requesting a friendly Mercy to resurrect them on the battlefield with her unique ability.
Ult stack – When a team conserves their ultimate abilities to unleash them in an ideally well coordinated assault.
Competitive Overwatch tips – what to watch out for in a winning team
The Overwatch League pre-season held in 2018 showed plenty of decent examples into what makes a winning team worth watching (and betting on). While hardcore players and the overall community may debate on the effectiveness of certain team compositions, strategies and the current meta, it’s safe to see the following plays were very successful.
A Pharmercy duo who really stick together: Seok-woo “Wekeed” Choi and Jin-mo “tobi” Yang of Seoul Dynasty pretty much dominated the Shanghai Dragons with the well coordinated and always effective match-up of a Mercy-boosted Pharrah, and both of them clearly knew the importance of constantly moving around the map, sweeping in on foes and retreating whenever necessary to keep alive and together, along with some well-placed rocket concussive blasts to escape firefights efficiently. An overly confident Pharrah who flies out of range of poor Mercy, they were not.
Genji mains who actually time their Dragon Strike: Ted “Silkthread” Wang of Los Angeles Valiant knew what was up during his debut match against the San Francisco Shock, reserving Genji’s ult until the last possible second to hold the final point on Junkertown and win the match. It may seem like Genji 101, but too many Genji mains wasted their alts throughout the other preseason match-ups without the element of surprise – thankfully, Silkthread did not disappoint, though it was unfortunately not captured live.
Types of bets in competitive Overwatch
Because Overwatch is fairly new in the esports scene and the Overwatch League has yet to properly debut aside from its brief pre-season, not many bookmakers/sportsbooks are offering wagers beyond match winner, which involves placing a bet on the winning team of the overall match. Visit our guide on Overwatch esports betting to find out the available markets and types of bets you can currently place on Overwatch competitive tournaments.
We will update this section with more detail, including what type of prop/game-specific bets the bets esports betting sites will be offering for aspiring Overwatch bettors when the first OW League season goes into full swing.
Our #1 recommended esports betting site for our readers from United States is BetOnline; you can claim exclusive new player welcome bonuses if you create a new account via our links, so you can get properly started with some free bets for your top Overwatch League picks.
The Overwatch Contenders competition is played by eight different regions around the globe and is used as a breeding ground for future Overwatch League stars. Many of the pro teams in North America and other places have teams competing in Overwatch Contenders with their reserves playing. This League is really about the emerging talent though, with ESB predicting many great stories to come out of the official feeder competition which has over $3 million USD in prize money for the 2019 season and culminates in an event called the Gauntlet.