If you’ve ever been to Ember Lounge in the evening then you’ll probably know that there’s often Sports like Football or Rugby being shown on the big screens, which is great for sport fans, and not unusual for a bar to do to bring in more people.
However, football and rugby aren’t for everyone. The global rise in E-Sports – playing videogames competitively in a public arena with teams, fans and leagues to rival that of more conventional sporting leagues – has clearly made the people around Staffs take notice, with the E-Sports varsity between Keele and Staffs, and the E-Sports Course starting in September. I’ll be talking more about E-Sports in an upcoming vlog, so keep an eye out for that!
Arguably one of the most popular games right now is Overwatch. Released back in 2016, it was a hit in the E-Sports community overnight. This popularity saw the developers, Blizzard Entertainment, organise events like the Overwatch World Cup last year. This was a success, and led to the first Overwatch League starting in January.
I love Overwatch, so when I saw there was a viewing party organised at Ember for the 17th March, I couldn’t not go. I dragged a few friends along to grab a bite to eat and a few drinks, and we went to see what it would be like.
Short answer, it was awesome! So much fun watching the matches with other people who all love it! The back room in Ember was packed with fans, cheering and wincing together as two of the best teams in the league (London Spitfire and the Seoul Dynasty) battled it out to try and get the win.
Each match is 4 games in Overwatch’s different game modes. If the teams draw 2-2, then it goes to a tie breaking 5th map. Seoul v London was a nail biter, with the first game going to a second round because the teams were so closely matched. In the end, London pulled ahead, and they capitalised on that, taking all 4 games and sweeping Seoul 4 – 0, surprising most people as Seoul were the favourites to win.
There are normally 3 matches in a day, and this was no different. Next up was San Francisco Shock v the Houston Outlaws. I’m an Outlaws fan, so I was in my element!
I was excited to see the Outlaws win this match, as they’ve had a tough time recently and Shock aren’t one of the best teams in the league. However, proving that you should always expect the unexpected, Shock took the first 2 games with relative ease. Houston showed signs of life winning the 3rd map, but San Francisco closed it out decisively in the last game, ending it 3 – 1.
At this point, we decided to call it a night. The snow was getting worse, and we didn’t want to get stranded for the night in Ember. By now the football had finished in the main room and Overwatch was on all the screens in Ember, which was cool to see.
We had a really great night, mixing with fellow Overwatch fans, and I’ll definitely be at the next one. If you’re interested in coming along, then join the Facebook group that organises the viewing parties! It’s all done by students, and they’ll keep you in the loop! https://www.facebook.com/groups/1915366945444279/ Alternatively, keep an eye out for flyers around campus for more information!