WPI Overwatch Open #1 Recap

Hey Everyone! My name is Aidan O’Keefe aka Cable and I am one of the WPI GDC Esports Executives and the lead for the WPI Overwatch Open that was held just a few weekends ago. This was the first esports event on campus under myself and also the first of its size to be held under the GDC in WPI’s history. I’m writing this recap to go over what went well, what could have gone better, and what we’ve learned from hosting this event for the future.

Before I get into any of those details, I’d like to congratulate my team, now-named Mei’d in Worcester, on winning the tournament, Kentucky is the Worst State for being finalists, and all of the other teams that competed throughout the weekend. I’d also like to disclose here that although many of the organizers and GDC executives did compete in this tournament, the seeding and brackets throughout the tournament were handled by people who were not competing. Many thanks to all of the volunteers who came together to make this event the success that it turned out to be.


Event Summary

The WPI Overwatch Open was a two part event, starting with an Online Qualifier held on Sunday, September 25th. 12 teams took part, including one team created solely from the free agents who signed up to be put on a team. Matches were played on a set first map, followed by the loser’s choice of map, based on the Tespa ruleset. In the end, we were left with 4 qualifying teams that moved on to the LAN event: PDD, Kentucky is the Worst State, Mei’d in Worcester, and Damingxing.

The LAN Finals were held on Sunday, October 2nd starting at 4PM in Odeum B in WPI’s Campus Center. Attendance was strong, with over 50 spectators showing up to watch the first match between PDD and Kentucky is the Worst State. In the end, Kentucky proved the better of the two with a quick 3–0 dispatching of PDD. This match was followed immediately after by the semi-final match between Mei’d in Worcester and Damingxing, which followed a similar 3–0 scoreline in favor of Mei’d.

The Grand Finals featured two very strong teams, with average SRs in the Diamond range and several Masters players between them. Mei’d in Worcester shot out the gate quickly with a win on Temple of Anubis after holding Kentucky hard on the first point. Kentucky is the Worst State chose Eichenwalde as their second map and looked to have the third point secured in a push before being shut down only 0.07m away from the third checkpoint. Mei’d had trouble securing the first point thanks to a well-executed Bastion strategy from Kentucky, but was able to push through onto the bridge when overtime started. It was on the bridge where a two-minute overtime fight between every member of both teams ended with Mei’d in Worcester barely securing the second checkpoint and an extra minute and a half to push to the end, which they managed after a clutch Graviton Surge.

The third map was Ilios, one of the few Control maps to be picked that day. Both teams saw significant lineup swaps in between rounds, choosing to run heroes like Junkrat and Reaper who were not as popular on previous maps. Both teams continued to run lineup mainstays like Lucio and Mei across each map. Mei’d in Worcester came out swinging to take the first two rounds and looked poised to take the third before Kentucky went ahead to take the third round, the first round Mei’d had dropped all tournament. In the end, Mei’d in Worcester emerged victorious after the fourth point and were crowned the WPI Overwatch Open champions.


What Went Well

Tournament Proceedings

The tournament that we held was overall a great success, and we were organized enough that we managed to finish on time with every match aside from one caused by scheduling issues. Our online qualifiers went off without a hitch and were finished by 7PM on the day we set out to run them. With 12 teams, we ended up with an uneven bracket and seeding via an average of all 6 players competitive ranks was used to give teams their seeds. In the end, the seeding worked out well with the #1 and #2 seeds facing off in the finals.

The LAN Event, though it did have some issues involving set-up, happened the same way, with all games being finished well before our cut-off of 10PM. We did budget enough time for all three series to go to 5 maps, but in the end each series was a 3–0. We were also able to quickly transition from one team to another thanks to the dedicated PCs generously provided by the IMGD department.

Prize Distribution

Our system of distributing prizes at this event worked very well at ensuring a good viewer count while also incentivising teams to participate. We first split the largest chunk of the prize pool into a “player prize pool” that consisted of most of the Steelseries gear and a good portion of the Overwatch gear provided by Tespa. The rest of the prizes (including some leftovers from our Tespa Summer Series package) went towards an audience raffle that was conducted amongst eligible audience members.

Our system of distributing audience prizes not only encouraged people to attend and watch all the way through, but also provided us with a significant boost to our Tespa membership. We required spectators to fill out a Google form with some basic info, and if they were okay with being signed up for the Tespa chapter. These spectators were added to our mailing list and those who signed up for the Tespa chapter have since been added to our roster.

We ensured that audience prizes had a staggered distribution to encourage viewers to stick around longer to have a chance to win these prizes, as well as providing a “grand prize” after the finals to reward viewers who stayed since the beginning. This system worked fairly well, though we did have a significant decrease in viewership between the second semi-final and the finals after one team with a very enthusiastic fanbase was eliminated. Overall, the prize distribution was a success.

Streaming

As a part of the GDC, we are lucky enough to have access to a dedicated “stream machine” named Ganon (after the purple Nintendo villain whom the case has a striking resemblance to). We were able to (after some delays to figure out how to deal with the outputs on the older graphics card) stream the game perfectly while also providing spectators in the Odeum with a fantastic view of the game. We did encounter some issues in finding cables that worked with the single HDMI output, but we were able to use two outputs in the end.

One thing that we really wanted to avoid with our stream was broadcasting the commentary into the venue. We do not have the budget for soundproof booths or headsets for players, so allowing them to hear information about the enemy team would have been a colossal issue. Luckily, our streaming setup allowed us to broadcast both speaker and microphone audio to Twitch but maintain only the game’s output in the venue. This is something that we will be looking into more for the next tournament.


What Needs Work

Set-up and Tear-down

For this event, we set out a block of 5 hours for setup from 11AM to 4PM. Our original goal was to be finished setting up by 1PM to allow volunteers to go and get lunch. In the end, the computers were set up and ready to play at 3:30PM, a full two and a half hours after we had aimed to get them ready. This delay can be boiled down to several issues that we will have to rectify for our next tournament:

  1. More communication with the IMGD department. We had received approval to use computers from the IMGD lab on campus as our Overwatch machines, but did not receive any information beyond that. We did not work closely enough with IMGD and the IT department on campus to ensure that the computers had the software installed and were ready to be transported to the venue. In the end, we found a way to play Overwatch without any software needing to be installed and were able to transport the computers (very slowly) from Fuller to the Odeum. For the next event, we plan on contacting the IMGD department earlier and working with the IT department directly.
  2. Lack of volunteers. While we did have several people show up early, the crew of four people that were originally going to do set-up at 11AM was not nearly enough for the scale of the event. We eventually were able to pull in about 6 more volunteers by the 1PM, but it took that entire crew several hours to get everything up and running. Next event, we will plan on having a much larger team of volunteers running set-up and tear down.

Tear down at the end ran much more smoothly and did not have any problems whatsoever.

Communication with Teams

Communicating with the participating teams was difficult as not every team had access to each line of communication. We tended to use Discord and our mailing list in tandem for later announcements, but our early announcements were scattered and did not always reach each team. For our next tournament, we plan on mandating one method of communication for distributing information to teams (likely Discord), and one method of communication for teams to ask questions to organizers (likely Email).

We also had several issues with teams asking last-minute questions, especially for roster changes. In some cases, teams sent emails the day before the LAN event to request a team member be replaced with someone who had not signed up before. We did try to be as accommodating as possible for teams, but we will likely be instituting a roster lock for our next tournament.

Communication with Other Universities

The WPI Overwatch Open was originally supposed to be a tournament open to WPI students and students of other Higher Education Consortium of Central MA schools. In the end, we had received a lukewarm response from HECCMA schools and decided to open up the tournament to students from any schools in the area. We had two players in the tournament who went to schools other than WPI: one from Case Western, and one from UMass Lowell.

This lack of participation from other schools is due mainly to a lack of advertising on other campuses. We did send out emails to any and all relevant clubs on HECCMA campuses, but only received two responses from other schools. For our next event, we plan on advertising on campus at several local colleges in order to drive up participant numbers.


Time for some fun facts about the WPI Overwatch Open!

  • Number of participants: 72 (60 players, 12 alternates)
  • Number of spectators (peak): ~60 spectators, 24 players (84)
  • Number of Twitch viewers (peak): 20 viewers
  • Average Competitive SR of the winning team: ~3100
  • Number of Masters+ players in attendance: 4
  • Number of Top 500 players in attendance: 1
  • Selfies with Winston plushies: Too many to count

In closing, I’d like to once again thank everyone who came out to watch and participate in our first major esports event on campus. I’d also like to especially thank our volunteers for the event, especially RootBeer, KitsuneKeira, Gelman, Omnyx, and DarkRune. I’d like to thank WPI’s IMGD department for their support of esports on campus, the GDC for their help in orchestrating the event, and all the viewers on Twitch for helping this event be a success!