South Korea is known as a frontrunner in esports, and for good reasons. Korean leagues were the first to professionalize on a wide scale, particularly with StarCraft — and with today’s reign of 5v5 multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) like League of Legends and Dota 2, it should come as no surprise that South Korea is a major player in these scenes as well.
For the last four straight years, the country’s strong competitive MOBA scene has kept League of Legends at the top of the charts in net cafes. But now, according to Korean tracking site Gametrics, another game has taken its place: Overwatch.
Really, if any game was going to unseat the king, Blizzard’s colorful team-based shooter seems like a natural fit: it combines four archetypal MOBA character classes (offense, defense, tank, and support) with fast-paced first-person gameplay, and its international cast of characters is charming as heck. There’s, predictably, even an Overwatch hero who hails from South Korea, D.Va — and surprise, she’s a former professional esports player who’s traded in her mouse and keyboard for a joystick-controlled battle mech. She also livestreams all her battles to fans, like, that’s an actual canon thing.
Will Overwatch continue to outplay League of Legends? In the long run, maybe, if Blizzard is able to build up a strong enough esports scene for it. But at least for now, Overwatch has broken through LoL’s long-held control of the charts in South Korea — and even if it drops back down again next week or in a few weeks’ time, that’s a notable accomplishment.
Disclosure: Zam and League of Legends developer Riot share a corporate parent. Riot has no control over editorial.