BlizzCon Recall - November 10, 2017
(from Team Liquid)
Coach and former pro player Dennis “INTERNETHULK” Hawelka passed away this week. Dennis is remembered as having an ability to see talent from a mile away, being instrumental in kickstarting the careers of many players, and vital to the early success of professional Overwatch.
Founding the powerhouse team IDDQD (unrelated to Swedish player iddqd), they were later signed by EnVyUs and during his time with the team, they won both APEX Season 1 and MLG Vegas 2016, along with many smaller tournaments. When his tenure with EnVyUs was over, he went on to coach Rogue and later Team Liquid.
His family has asked for privacy, but they did share an address via Team Liquid to send letters, with a North America address to follow soon.
Dennis was 30.
Inside Overwatch League
In a panel about the Inside of the Overwatch League and interview with Rachel “Seltzer” Quirico and Anna Prosser, Commissioner Nate Nanzer dished out a number of details regarding the OWL.
Seasons will consist of four, 5 week stages. Each stage will have an 8 map pool and $125,000 in bonuses will be awarded to teams for performance in each stage, with a minimum of half of that going to players directly.
The pre-season begins December 6, with Season 1 starting January 10 and going through June 16. Games will be played Wednesday through Saturday at various times to allow for players from around the world a better chance to watch their team in action. Playoffs will be held on July 11 inside a larger venue than the Blizzard Arena, but the location is yet to be revealed.
OverwatchLeague.com has already been relaunched. In addition to stories, it will contain stats of each player’s and team’s performance, and will even allow you to compare your stats against the pros. Around the season 1 opener, a mobile app will be released that will allow fans to watch games and keep up with stats of their favorite players.
Beyond season 1, more cities will added to the OWL, and we’ll receive more news about Contenders, Open Division, and the World Cup’s future later this month.
In a panel with Jeff Kaplan and Arnold Tsang, we got a rare look into the history of Overwatch’s development. As many know, Overwatch came into being after the fall of Titan, a first-person shooter MMO, but did you know Overwatch almost never saw the light of day as there were two other projects on the table? One of the other projects was a spin-off of the Starcraft universe, with concept art including a character that looked just like McCree. Another game that was growing into something cool was a “Crossroads of the Universe” MMO.
Jeff pointed out that players attribute more to Titan’s influence on Overwatch than is actually true, with only about 30% of the original engine’s code being used in Overwatch. All of Overwatch’s art is 100% original and zero models, textures, and animations came from Titan.
We also got to see video of the progression of game and hero development from Tracer’s Blink, Reinhardt throwing his hammer, to an early version of Hanamura. Watching the evolution of Hanzo’s ultimate starting as a massive “caterpillar” and turning into the twin dragons we know today was fascinating and showed that a single ability can take a long time to evolve.
In the Q&A after the panel, Jeff said that he is a bit of a digital hoarder and has at least 50GB of Titan clips and videos that may see the light of day eventually, but don’t expect that anytime soon. The Overwatch team also feels that longform fiction is compelling and we may see novels in the future.
What’s Next for Overwatch
Discussion about Moira kicked off the “What’s Next for Overwatch” panel. Diving into her origin story, the master geneticist joined Blackwatch after being unhappy with Overwatch slowing down her scientific progress. She, like seemingly everyone else, stole Mercy’s biotic technology for her own nefarious devices. Having flexible morals and no longer slowed down by Overwatch bureaucracy, Moira developed many new advances, such as Reaper’s Wraith form, which she borrowed for herself.
Moira serves as Oasis’s Minister of Genetics, and she also joined Talon’s ranks after the fall of Overwatch.
At one point, lead writer Michael Chu mentioned that she had a relationship with Reaper, quickly correcting himself, “A professional relationship,” a nod to Overwatch’s shipping community.
The new hybrid map, BlizzardWorld, has players trekking through various Blizzard properties. Combat starts in a Warcraft-themed area with areas such as Snaxaramas and the Hearthstone Tavern, and leads into the Starcraft-themed streets phase, where it was pointed out that Symmetra has plenty of areas to set up car washes. Finally, the end of the map is in a Diablo-themed area with plenty of breakables and loot to collect as the payload reaches Leoric’s throne. Teams from all around the Blizzard campus had a hand in creating this map and apparently there are lots of easter eggs to discover.
New skins will be coming with BlizzardWorld, but they aren’t tied to any specific event and will be added to the general lootbox pool. A number of the new skins were shown, such as Nova Widowmaker, Young Reinhardt, and Magni Bronzebeard Torbjorn, but there will be more which have yet to be revealed. Someone from the audience shouted out “Reflections Hanzo!,” a reference to Hanzo’s outfit in last year’s Christmas comic, to which the panelists coyly responded, “Interesting.” Will we get it for this year’s Winter Wonderland event? After all, we were told Hanzo would be getting a few more Legendary skins this year.