The Overwatch League is soon to head into the third week of competition, and the inaugural season has got off to an impressive start. The launch week saw extremely impressive viewership numbers, and although they’ve dipped, they’re still sitting above what many expected.
Thus far there’s three teams who sit head and shoulders above the rest on perfect 4-0 records. Seoul Dynasty and New York Excelsior are joined by none other than London Spitfire atop the roost and each of the teams have looked in imperious form.
It’s now been little over a month since the London Spitfire’s partnership with Code Red Esports was revealed. The agency was enlisted to help with the Spitfire’s move as well as lead local initiatives and build fan engagement within the city and country that the team represent. With the whole of the first season taking place in Los Angeles, it is undoubtedly a tricky task but one that Paul “Redeye” Chaloner and his team are embracing.
We caught up with Paul a few weeks ago to ask him a few UK specific questions about the partnership and what his agency are trying to achieve.
ESI: Looking at it from a very UK specific angle, are you looking at the wider country or is the initial focus on London? Will Overwatch fans from Manchester support the London franchise?
Redeye: There is definitely a danger of being too narrow minded and focused on one goal, but we’re lucky that we’ve got some really good people in Code Red in Ben and Luke that will help check that, and also our friends over at Cloud9 as well.
“I have this crazy idea in my head that I want to bring the Korean players over when they’re done with the league stuff and do some sort of tour”
Of course, there’s a wider picture and we’re very much aware of exactly what it is. I don’t want to get away from the fact that we want to build a physical location in London. That’s absolutely what we want to do.
Then again, I have this crazy idea in my head that I want to bring the Korean players over when they’re done with the league stuff and do some sort of tour.
Don’t ask me too much about it as I don’t know what the tour looks like just yet. It’s very much part of our big batch of ideas in the and “throwing stuff around” stage.
I think it would be really cool to get them to interact around the whole country. Ultimately, right now we’re the only European team never mind UK team. That might change at some point in the future, but right now that’s what it is. I want to make sure that we are engaging with our fans wherever they are.
I want to be engaging with our fans everywhere, be it London, be it Portsmouth, be it Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow or Dublin. Or anywhere else around Europe for that matter. We’re uniquely placed in that aspect in that we’ve got a potentially mammoth fan catchment area but we need to ensure we reach out to where they are.
ESI: With the inaugural season being played in Los Angeles, some of the timings of games can be tricky for the UK viewer. There’s games as late as 04:00 but some are obviously earlier. Does this create a challenge when it comes to engagement? Does it impact viewing parties and capturing a younger audience?
Redeye: Some of the early times are pretty reasonable and the majority of our matches will be played earlier due to the timezone difference. If they’re not, we’ll certainly talk to Blizzard and see if we can put them earlier and make sure that we do maximise the amount of people that can watch.
Having matches any earlier than the earliest “kick-offs” are obviously very tricky as we’re at the behest of the Blizzard Arena and the time zone of that so logistically it’s tough to do.
“We’ve got a potentially mammoth fan catchment area but we need to ensure we reach out to where they are”
I certainly can see where you’re coming from, though and we do share similar concerns but Blizzard are super open to discussion and have been listening to teams and the challenges we face. I don’t think this is any different.
If we find that our European and UK fans are struggling to tune in because of that, we will absolutely talk to Bizzard. From what I remember though, the majority should be OK for those who want to watch live.
I would much rather read about the result and watch highlights, but for people that do like to watch VoDs, our content team will be ensuring that’s available and we package up suitable highlight reels for those who missed the game and can’t stay up late. We’ll make sure that we cater to those who miss out as well as we possibly can.