After suffering their first-ever defeat Sunday (May 12) since joining the Overwatch League in February, players from the Vancouver Titans are now turning their attention to the stars.
Four players from the Vancouver esports team will be represented this week at the league’s 2019 All-Star Game in Burbank, California.
Overwatch plays like a first-person shooter but trades in the typical blood and guts for bright colours and stylized animated heroes.
A dozen players from each of the Overwatch League's Pacific and Atlantic divisions will compete for prize money during the May 15-16 event.
“The fact that I am participating in the All-Star match, representing the Titans, really makes me exuberant and joyful,” player Sang-Beom (Bumper) Park told Business in Vancouver through a translator.
“I am looking forward to and expecting that I am going to have fun playing a very fun game with players from the other teams.”
The Titans players originally hail from South Korea but are based in Los Angeles for their inaugural season.
“Bumper” Park said he has been concentrating on his gameplay since relocating to North America, so he wasn’t been outside much to experience life in a new country.
It’s expected that the Titans will relocate to Vancouver next season to play at a venue that has yet to be determined.
The other Titans represented on the Pacific division All-Star roster are Seong-Jun (Slime) Kim, Ju-Seok (Twilight) Lee and Hyo-Jong (Haksal) Kim.
The Vancouver team, meanwhile, had been undefeated prior to their last game before the All-Star event.
“I’m not feeling any pressure,” Park said.
“I believe all teams are going to grow exponentially if they lose, so I think it’s a good thing for us that we lost.”
The Aquilini Group owns both the Vancouver Canucks and the Titans.
There have been cross-marketing efforts underway as the Titans don uniforms with colours matching those of the NHL team — blue and green, with white accents.
The esports players also made an appearance at a Canucks game at Rogers Arena earlier this year to promote the Overwatch League.
And while the team has been based in L.A. this year, the Titans have cultivated a Vancouver supporters’ club known as the Rain City Runners.
Local fans, meanwhile, have been diligently attending official and unofficial viewing parties throughout the city, according to Nessa Harrison, Overwatch director of the UBC eSports Association.
“It’s been awesome just because they’ve had a near-perfect season,” she said.
“They’ve finally been dethroned, so now it’s more exciting to watch in a way because they’re not winning everything easily … everyone wants to watch them make a comeback.”
Global esports revenue grew an estimated 38% annually to US$905.6 million from 2017 to 2018, according to marketing research firm Newzoo.
Deloitte, meanwhile, forecasts US$1 billion in global revenue for 2019.
Newzoo said that number could grow to US$1.4 billion by 2020.
The Newzoo report also predicts most of the revenue growth (77%) will come from sponsorship, advertising, media rights and content licences.