Compiling a list of what happened in the past year, especially for this first half, I kept saying to myself, “That was this year?!” A lot happened in 2018 in Overwatch, especially since it was the first year of the Overwatch League. Below are a list of some of the highlights from the first half of 2018.

Fans_watching_the_LA_Valiant_and_SF_Shock.jpg Photo credit Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

January

  • In the New Year Developer Update, Jeff Kaplan talked about what was added to the game in 2017, including things such as Deathmatch and Arena maps, but he also talked about what was coming in 2018. He said Blizzard World was about to be released, and also hinted that Hero 27, later known as Brigitte, “…is very needed.” In addition to new content, he said work on improving competitive play was key, such as removing performance SR on ranks diamond and above, as was putting time into upcoming events such as “Year of the Dog” and an update to the seasonal lore event. He wrapped it up saying new content would be added to base loot boxes.

  • Korean tournament series APEX comes to an end as room is made for Blizzard’s own Contenders.

  • Junkrat was slightly nerfed, and Mercy saw further changes to her rework. Resurrection became no longer instant, she no longer gained an extra charge of the ability while ulting, the Valkyrie’s speed and length was reduced. Unintended interactions for many hero abilities on inclines, such as McCree’s Combat Roll, that gave them varying speeds if used on a hill, were fixed.

  • (OWL) Overwatch League Inaugural Season begins. The very first match is the San Francisco Shock vs. Los Angeles Valiant, where the Valiant swept the Shock 4-0.

  • (OWL) 10 days into the season, xQc received his first of a handful of disciplinary actions during his time with the Overwatch League.

  • A Redditor, so confident that the Shanghai Dragons couldn’t take a map against the Seoul Dynasty, bet that if they did, he’d buy a Dragons skin for all the heroes. He wound up buying all the skins as the Dragons took the final map.

  • In another Developer Update, this one on Popular Community Topics, Kaplan discussed: the reduction of toxicity in-game thanks to improved reporting tools, the reasoning behind so many Mercy changes (they felt Resurrection was too powerful), they were looking into adjusting or replacing Hanzo’s Scatter Arrow, Mei and Symmetra (pre-rework) needed some slight tuning, and suggested to one-tricks that they increase their hero pool to be a better team player.

  • Lead Writer Michael Chu said D.Va was not the pro Starcraft player we all thought she was. Her father, however, was.

  • By the end of the month we received our tickets to Blizzard World.

February

  • Overbuff added the ability to Compare your stats to other players.

  • Year of the Dog event released with a new Capture the Flag/Deathmatch map, Ayutthaya, along with a change for Sombra that was meant for the PTR. The Sombra changes were immediately rolled back, and were the beginning of changes meant to improve Sombra’s play, such as no longer getting ult charge from using hacked health packs, and making Hack stop more abilities.

  • The changes for Sombra go live, again. In addition to the above-mentioned changes, her Translocator’s cooldown was reduced to 15 seconds from 20. Lines crying for help from support characters who already hadn’t had such a line, were added.

  • (OWL) Geguri was announced to be joining the Shanghai Dragons.

  • (OWL) The London Spitfire defeat NYXL (3-2) to become the Stage 1 champions.

  • We received a hint about Hero 27 in a tweet sharing an after-action report on a mission run by Ana, where Torbjorn was seriously injured, but Reinhardt’s timely assistance helped save him.

  • On the last day of the month, we got our first look at Brigitte in a Developer Update. “She shares a lot of traits that fit the tank role…but remember, primarily she is support.”

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March

  • (OWL) Four players, Taimou, TaiRong, silkthread, and xQc were all hit with fines and suspensions. Later, OGE would be suspended for 4 games just after being signed to the Dallas Fuel.

  • (OWL) xQc was released from the Dallas Fuel, and effectively the Overwatch League.

  • In celebration of Starcraft’s 20th Anniversary, Widowmaker got a Kerrigan skin.

  • We received a teaser for the Uprising event, but with hints that something different was going on.

  • (OWL) Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer tells The Daily Mail that he’s been speaking with people in Europe, and was interested in getting teams in France and Germany among others. He also added he was soon going to be traveling to Guangzhou.

  • (OWL) NYXL defeat the Philadelphia Fusion (3-2) to become the Stage 2 champions.

  • In a Developer Update, we got our first look at the “Avoid as Teammate” option, another way to improve competitive play.

April

  • We added the ability to see your Overbuff Activity on a profile.

  • A self-plug of sorts because it’s my article, Sabina Hemmi, co-founder for Overbuff, and Sabriel Mastin, social media/support/content creator/me for Overbuff, were on a panel at PAX East called “Women in Esports” where we discussed the topic with Nicole Carpenter of Dot Esports, Tatjana Vejnovic of the former Overwatch Wire, Victoria Rose, former lead of Polygon’s DOTA2 site, and Amanda Stevens, Managing Editor for Proving Grounds. Overwatch esports came up a lot.

  • (OWL) DreamKazper was released from the Boston Uprising after inappropriate sexual interactions with an underage girl.

  • Overwatch: Retribution event added, a lore event that follows a Blackwatch mission gone bad. We also got our first look at a new map, but didn’t know it. In the same patch, D.Va and Zenyatta received some small nerfs, Reaper got some buffs, and Moira’s graphical effects were toned down a bit.

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May

  • (OWL) NYXL defeat the Boston Uprising (3-0 after a tie on map 3) to become the Stage 3 champions.

  • Rialto added, along with the first of many nerfs for Brigitte, a reduction in the cone size for her Shield Bash. Genji’s Reflect hitbox was slightly reduced, as were the size of Junkrat’s projectiles, Tracer’s Pulse Bomb damage was reduced, and Hanzo’s Storm Arrows and Lunge abilities were added to the game.

  • Applications to be on Overwatch World Cup Committees opened.

  • Mercy got her new Pink skin to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

  • (OWL) The Overwatch League caused a stir with pro players when they said the above patch with nerfs to Brigitte and Tracer were not going to be in the Stage 4 patch.

  • The Anniversary event began, with new dances and skins for a number of heroes, competitive Free For All, and a new Deathmatch map, Petra, which featured a destructible surface for the first time in Overwatch. In this same patch, Ana gained some buffs such as allowing her shots to go through allies at full health, her clip size was increased to 14 bullets, up from 10, and Nano Boost now provided a huge heal. Brigitte got her next nerfs, with Rally only providing 100 armor, down from 150, and Shield Bash’s cooldown was increased to 6 seconds from 5.

  • (OWL) Activision Blizzard Esports CEO Pete Vlastelica said there will be six more teams next season, with two in the Americas, two in Asia, and one from both Europe and the Middle East. Was he trolling us or was this just early speculation?

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June

  • A Developer Update comes out to tell us about new social features coming to the game, including Endorsements and a Looking for Group system. Kaplan also said that Attack and Defense heroes would be merged into one category called Damage (side note: We know we haven’t done this yet!), player profiles would be set to private by default, and more social features would be coming to the game in the future.

  • Tracer got an Emily spray.

  • (OWL) The Los Angeles Valiant defeat NYXL to become the Stage 4 champions.

  • A teaser for Hero 28 was released using a modified shot of a Rialto street, causing some speculation the next hero would be related to the recently-added map. It would later turn out the location was a red herring, and in an end of the month Developer Update, Wrecking Ball was revealed and Kaplan added that the ball spoke for Hammond because, “Hammond cannot speak English, as we all know that would be ridiculous.”

  • The long-awaited Symmetra and Horizon Lunar Colony reworks went live, along with the Endorsement system, Looking for Group feature, and profile privacy.