If I asked you how many professional Overwatch players there are in the world, how many would you say?
Several hundred? A thousand, maybe?
Blizzard recently announced their new “Open Division,” an official Overwatch league that allegedly lets aspiring professional players have a shot at stardom. Whether you’ve already built your team or are a lonely free agent, Blizzard’s new offering gives many players a chance to experience real competitive play.
How many players are eligible for the Open Division?
On April 28, 2017, Blizzard announced that they had crossed the 30 million player mark. Now, keep in mind that only Master (3500 Skill Rating) or above players are allowed to compete in the Open Division. Seems like a reasonably high mark?
Well, MasterOverwatch estimates that players with 3500 rating fall into roughly the 88th percentile. In case you didn’t want to do the math (and estimating that roughly half of Overwatch players touch Competitive Mode), that means we’re talking about a whopping 1.8 million eligible players worldwide that could sign up for the Open Division.
Which idiot thought that drawing from a pool of 1.8 million players would lead to anything resembling high level play?
I recognize that Blizzard has always catered to more casual audiences, but this is a huuuggggeeee stretch. They’re trying to re-enter the esports scene again, but their strategy is to create a system that invalidates the entire competitive vetting process.
What’s an appropriate cutoff for the Open Division?
In League of Legends, the only amateurs and aspiring professionals who are given any serious consideration from esports organizations are those on top of the Challenger ladder, which is a total of 200 players. which amounts to the grand sum of 200.
If only Overwatch had a rating system which kept track of the top several hundred players…
Wait… What’s that?
There’s a Top 500 list for each region?
In my mind, even limiting the Open Divison to Overwatch players in the Top 500 might be a little too liberal. But even if it weren’t, Grandmaster (4000+ SR) would be a far more appropriate cutoff for the “Path to Stardom” that Blizzard is pushing with the Open Divison. And Blizzard has made it very clear that Open Division is designed to be a natural segue into professional Overwatch play. To be frank, if you’re not at least Grandmaster, you don’t have a chance in hell of becoming a pro. To hit GM, you need to have excellent mechanical ability and extensive game knowledge. To be a Master player, all you need to do is be above average. A Platinum League of Legends player has a better relative rating.
Behind all of Blizzard’s smoke and mirrors, there lies only false hope in the Open Division for those who choose to compete. The real competitors are going to make it through other means.
But hey, thanks for systematically destroying adolescent dreams, Blizzard.