OWL coaches slam players for reportedly souring dev relationship
The Overwatch esports community still eagerly analyses the errors made during the Overwatch League era. During a podcast episode of "Uncoachable," the hosts revealed that with the launch of Overwatch 2, Blizzard Entertainment developers had been receptive to feedback from inside OWL.
The coaches alleged that the relationship soured when the feedback channel was used to vent unconstructive and self-serving grievances with the game, causing the devs to stop engaging with the feedback.
The "Uncoachable" podcast, made up of the former OWL coaches Max "Unter" Unterwurzacher, Christopher "ChrisTFer" Graham, and Xavier "CommanderX" Hardy has been digging into the behind-the-scenes action throughout Overwatch League history, inviting various guests to share their insights.
In their most recent episode with former San Francisco Shock coach Kim "NineK" Bum-hoon, the discussion moved to the topic of balanced feedback provided by Overwatch League players for the development team.
In a half-joking manner, Unter shared: "I think American Tornado single-handedly killed Overwatch League’s ability to get feedback into the devs. When Overwatch 2 came out, we had a direct line to the developers that they were actually reading. I swear every single post by an AT player [...] was the dumbest s#!t."
American Tornado is a former Overwatch Contenders team that dominated the North American tier 2 scene in 2020 and 2021, before its members were promoted to the Overwatch League, playing for different teams before coming together again for 2023 under the Toronto Defiant banner. The cast later also called out other North American players as the culprits.
Former head coach of the London Spitfire, ChrisTFer agreed with Unter's statement, explaining what he thought was the conclusion of the unconstructive feedback: "All of a sudden, Blizzard isn’t listening to our feedback anymore because these guys mute the Discord [...] because of [players] just telling them to ‘nerve this hero! It’s so obvious!'"
Self-serving balance feedback
One particular issue that the cast pointed out was what they deemed to be selfish feedback, providing input selectively when it could competitively advantage them.
"People needed to stop being self-serving with the feedback," said Unter, with ChrisTFer adding: "No one in the league ever went against their own interest — which I guess makes sense — which in my opinion made the feedback channel off the Overwatch League Discord purely to appease the teams that they are being listened to."
The coaches went on to recount examples of this happening, also again involving players of American Tornado. At times Overwatch League teams were polled on rule decisions during the ongoing season, with the podcast alleging that teams voted with self-interest in mind too, laying some burden on the League for asking in the first place during mid-competition.
Another grievance that ChrisTFer had with the feedback provided by the OWL teams and its players came from a lack of thought on the bigger picture, suggesting simplistic solutions to large league-wide issues.
One such example cited was the feedback to bring the Overwatch League broadcast back to Twitch due to a higher expected viewership, disregarding the context of a reportedly $160 million broadcasting rights deal with YouTube. Overwatch esports has yet to receive an update on what structure is to follow after the death of OWL though an update is expected soon.