What if this is the last Overwatch League playoffs?
It is a sobering thought, but what if this is the last Overwatch League playoffs? Activision Blizzard's multimillion-dollar esports venture faces a reckoning as the league awaits a "vote on an updated operating agreement" after the conclusion of the 2023 season.
The format of the playoffs is questionable at best, the rules are napkin scratch, and the animals might be leaving, but do you really need anyone else? If this is the final run for competitive Overwatch, should we not appreciate the ride into the dark?
There is still time to celebrate, commemorate, and foster hope before the end of the Overwatch League era.
We owe it to the people who started here and will see the end of the era to celebrate their legacy. Whether or not it continues doesn't matter, what matters is that they are adequately remembered. Since the Apex Era, Lee "Twilight" Joo-seok has been a name that has struck fear in the hearts of teams everywhere.
Be it because of his flexibility or his tendency to play-make from the support position, Twilight is a hallmark name of competitive Overwatch lore. Will he remind the world that he should be considered one of the best ever to do it in Toronto?
China has been hard done by in Overwatch, but the 2021 Regular Season MVP Huang "Leave" Xin carries the weight of the region. Few players can boast that they've been around and winning awards since 2017 and Leave still looks to be capable of wondrous things.
Can the Chinese phenomenon erase the doubt around the APAC region, the Hangzhou Spark, and his legacy? Shining in spite of a dismal debut, Kim "Shu" Jin-seo has stepped into the sun.
Many will forget his quiet start with Flash Lux and his rise in potential with Toronto Esports, but it would be his performance in the Overwatch League era that would see him atop the rankings of support players.
In a star-studded lineup, flanking a potential great, can Shu continue his rags-to-riches story by assisting Houston in stealing a world title? It's true that esports is, has, and will always be about the individual.
Favourite players trump favourite teams, personalities superseded brands, and the stars carry the weight of the league. Codifying the mythology of their stories is the least we can do.
Like a veteran musician heading out for one last tour before closing shop for good, our focus should be on the hits, not the misses. The 2023 Overwatch League playoffs are set to be one of the most open-ended stories our little esport has seen.
We have the eight best teams, two wildly balanced groups capable of anything, and a new patch that is going to throw a wrench into the whole dish. This is how upsets are born, legends are created, and must-see TV is directed.
It feels like every time the Overwatch League enters a live environment, we're gifted with another highlight to add to our collection. Oh "Pelican" Se-hyun is a recent addition with his spectacular Hanzo performance, but so many precede him.
People like Park "Profit" Joon-yeong's masterwork in the 2018 finals. Zheng "shy" Yangjie's Sojourn against the Los Angeles Gladiators last year or even Kim "Proper" Dong-hyun's resume of bottling lightning. Overwatch is still a spectacle in a live capacity, and new jaws are waiting to drop.
Toronto will continue that trend. Competitive Overwatch may go dark after this, and for how long depends on factors no one, not even those at the top, can really comprehend or consider yet.
It is time to be present, to be passionate, and to prepare one last memorable outing before we tuck this all away into memory. Strangely enough, it may be that effort that shields us from the storm ahead.
Fighting For Change
If you're charged with indignation, channel that into one final bout of support. Be it for those who have dedicated themselves to this craft, to those who have yet to be inspired, or because you think Overwatch deserves another shot under new leadership, now is the time to show Microsoft and any future partners that this is space worth investing in.
Questionable decisions have plagued the management of this title for ages, but we will never get a chance to right those wrongs if the lights go out. Bracing for the worst, commemoration should be the acting emotion, not jadedness or disillusionment.
It is not lost on us that any act of support feels like applause for those in the front office who have done nothing but propagate mistakes, but this isn't about them. This is about survival, history, and putting our best foot forward as we take this leap of faith.
If there isn't a league or a circuit to play for, opportunities are drawn into question. Think of anyone starting their journey, someone transitioning into another role or even a collegiate position. If there isn't an end goal, what is it all for?
If there ever was a time to show up and show out, if there was ever a time to be passionate about competitive Overwatch, it is now. The Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Canada, will likely be the final venue for the Overwatch League.
What happens after this sheer cliff is beyond anyone's foresight. All we can do now is be present for the end, support those who are giving it their all, and hope for brighter days ahead.
If this is the last Overwatch League playoffs, then we ought to go for broke. At least then, we can say that we tried right up until the end.