They’re trying their hardest not to mention eSports, but that doesn’t mean Blizzard’s upcoming shooter isn’t having an impact across other titles.
It’s easy to forget, but Team Fortress 2 has had a long and proud competitive history. It was a history that might have been revived recently, with fans hoping for a while that Valve would add competitive matchmaking to the free-to-play class-based team shooter.
But the longer they wait, the more and more Overwatch snaffles up its champions. The latest to switch: Froyotech, the North American team that was so dominant that they never lost a title at LAN. That wasn’t just a North American thing either. Froyotech won two world championships, and the last time Froyotech’s leader, b4nny, didn’t make the finals of an event was 2010.
They were good. The recent i55 TF2 grand finals — the video went up at the start of September — says it all.
“Probably now, could be considered after two world championships in a row, the best team in the world to play [Team Fortress 2],” one of the commentators quipped.
That was the case, at any rate, until very recently when the team had lost a lower bracket match for an online tournament. The team’s star scout later revealed that the release of Overwatch had enthralled the TF2 veterans so much that the team’s legendary dynamic had suffered, which gave some context to the reason why one of the players had left during the first match of the best-of-three and had to be substituted.
“Even though we didn’t end things in the most impressive way, I feel accomplished as a TF2 player. Many of our teammates, since the release of Overwatch, have had waning interest in TF2 (myself included). As a result, our team cohesion took a heavy hit,” Froyotech’s “clockwork” said. He added that he’ll be focusing on Overwatch as well, although the team’s captain remains committed to TF2 for now.
North American organisations, perhaps because of their proximity to Blizzard, have already made moves to poach TF2 teams for Overwatch. I’d expect those frenzied negotiations to continue in earnest once everyone returns from the holidays next year. The North Americans know Blizzard is doubling down on Overwatch hard, and they’re going to ride the train with them.