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Category Archives: Overwatch

Call Of Duty League Reveals Plans For The 2021 Season – Bleeding Cool News

This past week, Activision Blizzard revealed the plans for the 2021 season for Call Of Duty League, including the opening weekend details. As you might suspect, this season will be completely different compared to the inaugural season, primarily because player will be operating with the Black Ops Cold War setup instead of Modern Warfare, but will still be using Warzone for other formats. This year we’ll see classic tournaments return as all twelve teams will be facing off in five majors throughout the season, giving multiple possibilities for brackets that are unpredictable and could land some fun matchups. We know that the regular season will start online with the Atlanta FaZe Home Series, taking place February 11th-14th, 2021. There will also be a special pre-season event called the Call of Duty League Kickoff Classic, which will run from January 23rd-24th. For that event, fans will determine the matches at the preseason through an online poll. There will also be a Group Draw Selection Show, where teams will participate in a unique snake draft to determine the first groups of the season.

Call Of Duty League Reveals Plans For The 2021 SeasonCall Of Duty League Reveals Plans For The 2021 Season
Credit: Call Of Duty League

Fans Vote for Preseason Matchups

Fans will have their voices heard. Each of 2020’s top three regular season teams will hold online polls to determine which team they will face-off against at the Kickoff Classic later this month.

Dallas Empire, 2020 CDL Champions — New York Subliners, Paris Legion, London Royal Ravens
Atlanta FaZe — Florida Mutineers, Los Angeles Guerrillas, Seattle Surge
OpTic Chicago (formerly Chicago Huntsmen) — LA Thieves, Minnesota RØKKR, Toronto Ultra

Each remaining team in the polls will compete in their own match during the preseason event on January 23-24, 2021.

Unique Group Draw Format

The upcoming Group Selection Draw Show, which will be broadcast during the Kickoff Classic, will feature a unique format that will include participating for each team. The unique snake draft format will allow teams to select the team that will be placed in its next-ranked opponents group. 2020 Call Of Duty League Champions Dallas Empire (Group Alpha) will select first, determining who second-place Atlanta FaZe will have in its own group (Group Bravo). Atlanta will then select a team for Dallas’ group.

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can’t be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

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Blizzard Shows Off The New Look For Battle.net 2.0 – Bleeding Cool News

Blizzard Entertainment revealed a brand new look coming to Battle.net as they showed off images for the upcoming Version 2.0. The company has been experimenting with fixing up the system and making it more user friendly and adapted for new games coming in. They’ve already been running tests with people who have signed up to test it out. They didn’t put a date on it, but they’ve decided to show off images of how it will look along with the info below letting fans know it’s on the verge of being released.

Credit: Blizzard EntertainmentCredit: Blizzard Entertainment
Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Battle.net has been a huge part of our history going back to the release of the original Diablo in 1996. We’re proud of how it’s helped people connect and play Blizzard games together quickly and easily. With the latest release, we want to welcome players of all ability levels and make sure they have a smooth time navigating the app. Those of you who’ve been participating in the beta are already familiar with these updates. For everyone else, you’ll see some major changes when your client’s patched from the live version of Battle.net to the new version:

  • Improved navigation and layout—you can now favorite your games and arrange them for ease of access.
  • A much more expansive layout for news and game content in full-page view.
  • A revamped social pane so you can better see your friends and what they’re up to on each game tab.
  • Major accessibility improvements—we’ve added the ability to navigate most of the app with your keyboard, increased our screen reader support, and improved the color contrast.
  • A new, consolidated notifications hub for messages and download status.

The new patch will go out to parts of North America first so that we can ensure its stability. We’ll roll it out further in the weeks ahead, including to other player regions. This is just the beginning of new features coming to Battle.net; we’ll keep iterating, improving, and adding to the app over time. We’d love to hear your feedback once you’ve spent some time with the new app, and you can share your thoughts on the forums.

Credit: Blizzard EntertainmentCredit: Blizzard Entertainment
Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can’t be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

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3 Growth Stocks I’d Buy Right Now – Motley Fool

Consistently adding money to your holdings in companies that are delivering above-average growth can be an effective stock-picking strategy. The beauty of growth investing is that all it takes is a few big winners to see a significant improvement in your returns.

To give you some ideas, here are three promising growth stocks I would feel confident buying today.

An older couple looking out over beautiful scenery from a mountain top.

Image source: Getty Images.

NetEase: Riding the growth in mobile games

Mobile games made up the fastest-growing segment of the video game industry in 2020 as engagement levels surged across platforms. The increasing usage of smartphones makes mobile games easily accessible for a global audience, which helps explain why NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES), a leading online game producer in China, continues to deliver market-beating results for investors. 

The stock gained 56% in 2020 as revenue growth accelerated through the first three quarters of the year to 27% in the third quarter. In addition to its online games segment, NetEase has a fast-growing online education business and also generates a small percentage of revenue from its Yanxuan e-commerce platform. But online games is by far its largest segment, comprising 70% or more of its top line in recent years. 

While video games can be a fickle marketplace, NetEase is known for delivering quality gaming experiences that keep players coming back. Two of its biggest titles — Westward Journey Online 2 and Fantasy Westward Journey — have remained popular for more than 15 years. 

NetEase also has important licensing arrangements with Activision Blizzard and Microsoft to launch exclusive titles in China. These include Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo 3, in addition to Microsoft’s Minecraft.

Currently, NetEase is co-developing Diablo: Immortal with Blizzard. It also has a partnership with Walt Disney‘s Marvel Entertainment to co-develop games, television series, and comic books featuring characters from the Marvel universe. All of these partnerships are a testament to NetEase’s expertise in developing games, as well as the trust that these companies place in NetEase’s corporate culture to handle precious intellectual property.

The shares are up 240% over the last five years. With strong performance from existing games and a pipeline of new releases in the works, NetEase is positioned to deliver market-beating returns. 

Okta: A leading identity cloud management platform

Okta‘s (NASDAQ:OKTA) identity cloud platform helps businesses connect their employees to apps and websites securely, and growth has been explosive. In the fiscal 2021 third quarter, revenue climbed 42% year over year as the platform continues to win the business of large companies.

As the company scales, it is driving profits higher. Trailing 12-month free cash flow reached $96 million as of the latest report. For the third quarter alone, Okta generated a robust free cash flow margin of 19.1% of total revenue, revealing a very profitable business taking shape. 

The lucrative market that Okta serves will obviously attract competition over time. However, Okta has quickly captured a leadership position and is already competing favorably with the likes of Microsoft — Okta’s primary rival in this space. 

Still, Okta should be able to hold its own against tech heavyweights. Microsoft entered the market in 2014 with Azure Active Directory, but customers still choose Okta because it provides a neutral identity cloud solution that is platform agnostic. It works with a variety of cloud and IT infrastructure providers, including Amazon‘s cloud services, Zoom, salesforce.com, Oracle, Cisco Systems, and even Microsoft Office 365.

As Okta continues to grow free cash flow, it’s able to invest more resources in new product features and services. Once Okta brings a new client on board, it’s common for those customers to expand their use of the platform. This helps drive more revenue growth and improves Okta’s free cash flow margin, since selling additional services to existing customers comes at a lower expense than chasing down new clients. 

Even though the stock has already earned investors more than a 10-fold gain over the last five years, Okta’s addressable market is much larger than its current trailing 12-month revenue of $768 million. Okta will almost certainly be a much larger and more valuable business in 10 years than it is today, which is why the stock remains a buy at these lofty levels.

Wayfair: Winning the war for home goods spending

A promising play on the growth of e-commerce is Wayfair (NYSE:W), one of the leading online retailers for home goods. The stock rocketed higher in 2020 as revenue growth accelerated during the pandemic, but the new year is still a great time to start a position. 

A young woman using a laptop at home.

Image source: Getty Images.

The shares might look expensive, but they appear reasonably priced relative to Wayfair’s growth prospects. Consider that that company has grown revenue twice as fast as Amazon over the last five years. While its stock price climbed 700% over that time, it still trades at a price-to-sales (P/S) multiple of just 2.5 as of this writing. 

Wayfair is already a large online business with $13 billion in revenue generated over the last four quarters. In the third quarter of 2020, revenue growth clocked in at an impressive 66% year over year. That level of growth reflects consumers’ recent increased willingness to invest in comfortable home furnishings rather than going out and risking exposure to COVID-19.

But Wayfair is benefiting from two other long-term trends as well. One is rapid growth in urbanization, as more people leave rural areas for cities. Another is the massive shift of brick-and-mortar spending moving online. Wayfair is already winning a healthy share of that shift in spending, which points to plenty of growth ahead.

As with all growth stocks, don’t fret too much about recent stock performance or valuation. Instead, focus on the long-term trajectory of where the business is headed and make investment decisions accordingly.

Overwatch League wants to ‘level-up’ online matches and tournaments for 2021 season – IOL

By Teddy Amenabar

The Overwatch League’s 2021 season is starting to take shape and – despite what the pandemic may bring – the league is preparing for a series of regular season tournaments where the top teams across three continents will compete against each other online.

In a league update posted Thursday, Overwatch League’s Vice President Jon Spector told fans the fourth season will kick off in April with teams divided into East and West conferences. The West will be composed of twelve teams competing from North America and Europe, while the East will include eight teams in China and South Korea.

The Overwatch League is attempting to improve on the virtual format it was forced to create last year when the pandemic essentially split the league in two – between Asia and North America. Teams will now regularly compete against opponents outside their region. Four stand-alone tournaments spread through the season are set to pit teams from both regions against each other, which is no simple feat.

The farther two teams are away from each other, the higher the ping and the greater the potential for lag – a delayed response time from a stroke on a keyboard to the game. Professional players prefer competing in-person on local networks because they worry a split-second delay could be the difference between a win or a loss. To combat this, the league is introducing a new tool that means two teams competing against each other online will always play on the same ping.

“It’s a way to sort of move the minimum latency up to a floor where we can put everybody at the same playing field,” Spector said.

Some teams may compete across thousands of miles in 2021. The league is attempting to run global competitions without players having to travel internationally. Spector told The Post they’re planning for top American teams to travel to Hawaii to compete in tournament finals against opponents in Asia.

“What Hawaii allows us to do with undersea cable routing is that we can connect from Hawaii to servers in Asia,” Spector said. “In today’s environment, we feel confident that we can pull that off.”

In December, OWL ran a remote tournament series for Contenders teams using the minimum latency tool Activision Blizzard developed. It’s actually now a feature inside of Overwatch for any player to configure during a custom match.

For Spector, the priority for OWL’s online competitions is ensuring there’s competitive integrity to the results of every match.

“What matters is that, at the end of the day, the best team wins,” Spector said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a problem with that in Overwatch League.”

Most – but not all – of the 20 teams in the OWL will be based in or around the city written on their jersey. The Philadelphia Fusion, one of the top franchises in North America, plan to train and compete in South Korea this year. The New York Excelsior will remain in South Korea, after moving there to compete last season. And, the Los Angeles Valiant will train and play from China in 2021.

Jeffery “blasé” Tsang, an American DPS player now on the London Spitfire roster, told The Post he will be based in Los Angeles, training remotely, while the rest of his team is based in Europe. Last season, the Spitfire and the Paris Eternal both were based in New Jersey.

Activision Blizzard first created the Overwatch League to be a city-based, international sports league that mirrored format of traditional sports franchises. Teams are set in local markets so fans can support their hometown. But OWL has never been able to fully realize that dream. The pandemic made it impossible to hold live events last season and some franchise owners were counting on ticket sales and local sponsorships to balance their team checkbooks. Ticket sales are one of the few revenue streams from which the league does not withhold a sizable percentage.

Spector said the league will decide whether to return to live events on a “market-by-market” basis, adding that teams in China already want to book venues for events later this year. Bilibili, the video-sharing site that owns the Hangzhou Spark, aired a series of in-person exhibition matches hosted by the Shanghai Dragons in early December.

“In some parts of the world, particularly in Asia, I think we’ll hopefully see some live events,” Spector said. “Whether and when it’s safe to do that in the U.S., I don’t know right now. Obviously, it’s not really today.”

When asked whether franchise owners are happy with the online format this season, Spector said the teams “understand the environment we’re all operating in” in the middle of a pandemic that will be “a reality for much of 2021.” Spector said owners are interesting in finding ways to “level up” broadcasting the online matches this season.

To that point, the league announced Thursday they’re working closely with YouTube to improve on the quality of their streams and to “add more value” for fans watching matches live. There are also plans for league videos spotlighting players, teams, tips and analysis from experts.

And then there’s “Overwatch 2.” The upcoming sequel was first announced over a year ago. There’s an expectation from some in OWL that the new title could reignite the fan base for the game and the league. But Activision Blizzard doesn’t have a release date for the sequel. Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan recently said fans can expect more details about Overwatch 2 at Blizzconline in February.

Spector declined to comment on whether Overwatch 2 will have any impact on the 2021 season.

“Can’t wait to talk to you more about Overwatch 2,” Kaplan said. “We still have a ways to go.”

Read more from Launcher:

The Overwatch League’s lesson from 2020: Plan for literally anything

Overwatch, Call of Duty League teams can defer multimillion-dollar franchise fees due to covid-19

How to get your Twitch 2020 recap – CharlieINTEL.com

Call of Duty: Warzone has been facing glaring audio issues for a while and Dr Disrespect has weighed in on the matter by making comparisons to how much better it is in Battlestate’s Escape from Tarkov. 

Many different streamers have chimed in to share their thoughts on Escape From Tarkov. The multiplayer shooter has faced varying degrees of popularity over the past year with boosts from players like xQc and Shroud.

YouTube streamer Herschel “Guy” Beahm IV, more commonly known as Dr Disrespect, played Escape From Tarkov several times in front of his fans. While it’s not the game he spends the most time on, he still has strong opinions on it.

One feature in EFT impressed him so much that he stated that Call of Duty: Warzone should take a few notes from Battlestate’s shooter title.

Call of Duty: Warzone from Activision.

Dr Disrespect on Warzone audio issues

Dr Disrespect has been playing Warzone for such long a while that the game has become a major part of the Champions Club streams. Despite this, he doesn’t consider it to be perfect, and he voiced his discontent with the game’s audio problems in a recent stream.

Ever since its integration with Black Ops Cold War, we’ve seen a plethora of new content come to Warzone through a few updates. Despite this, the Battle Royale title is still plagued by glaring audio issues.

The streamer was playing Warzone in front of his fans on January 11, and then complained that the game’s audio is so bad that it made it hard for him to tell where his enemies were. They sounded like they were much further away than they actually were.

He said: “A game like Escape from Tarkov, a game that has perfect audio, blows this game’s audio out by 500% – trust me.

“Trust me, any real gamer would say the same thing. It blows this audio out by like a thousand, but the reason why is because it caters to (competitive players). You hear something at a distance, a shot, footstep, you hear it!”

Discussion starts at 1:12:48 in the video below. 

[embedded content]

This is an issue that has also been causing trouble for players in other Battle Royale titles like Fortnite and Apex Legends. Dr Disrespect has also called out those games for the same reason and it’s understandable why he feels this way.

He hasn’t given as much dedication to Escape From Tarkov as he does Warzone but still enjoys the title quite a bit. The game definitely has certain qualities that he thinks Activision should take note of, such as the clear audio.

The streamer has also offered other advice to improve on Warzone in the past, such as changes in the Gulags. He’s enough of a pro that it’s worth listening to his advice, and hopefully the developers will release a fix for this issue soon.

Image Credits: Activision Blizzard

If T2 Overwatch Fails, We Only Have Ourselves to Blame – Hotspawn

Similar to the professional sports model, Overwatch Contenders is the minor league to Overwatch League’s major. It’s a place where players who dream to be professional esports players can finally get a shot at the big time and show off their skills, as shown time and time again. Well-known players such as Dogman, Fusions, and the two-time champion tank Smurf have cultivated successful OWL careers simply by starting in T2 Overwatch.

Yet despite the best efforts of its growing community and the support of Overwatch players and content creators, Contenders still has issues with its viewership and support. This largely stems from Blizzard’s continued lack of support for something so crucial to its existence. However, last year, a lot has occurred since then to make the situation more complicated. From the dissolution of various academy teams, to producing a season that is entirely remote due to a global pandemic. Blizzard marginally improved their backing of their minor league via promoting skin drops, but results are still far below expectations and it’s leading to questions as to what will happen this year, as unlike APAC, which has a steadily growing fanbase, all eyes in this region are on NA and EU.

A True NA Production

Overwatch League’s viewership has decreased since the move to YouTube for Season 3, and the same could be said for Contenders as well. Due to a combination of lack of interest in the game itself, the move of popular pro players to VALORANT, and the pandemic obliterating any live and Homestand events, viewership dropped a shocking 61.4% between 2019’s and 2020’s Grand Finals Contenders viewerships didn’t fare much better, averaging around 1,000 to 2,000 viewers per broadcast.

The lack of viewership made it easy for a lot of OWL teams to drop their academy, or T2 teams due to lack of funding or interest. Out of the 12 NA teams in the league, only ONE team has an academy team. Boston Uprising’s Uprising Academy produced star players such as Fusions and Punk. All of the others have been dropped, raising concerns by players, content creators, and casters alike.

The Gauntlet

Overwatch Gauntlet

The Gauntlet is the penultimate T2 Overwatch event of the year. (Photo courtesy Blizzard)

It also didn’t help that technical issues plagued The Gauntlet this year, with viewers understandably upset with problems like pixelated visuals, delayed productions, and desynced audio and video. Due to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year-end showcase tournament of the top T2 Overwatch teams from each of the regions was held entirely online.

The culminating event was produced by ELO Hell Esports, a company well-known in the Overwatch scene. According to Alex “Mierst” Lessard, the Managing Director of ELO Hell, the technical issues are easily explained.

“At the scale of a production like Gauntlet, you now have multiple streaming feeds that need to be kept in sync,” he explains. “You’re splitting off that feed as well to be used by localization broadcasts, French, Spanish, and German. The more staff you have, the more feeds you’re working with, and with everyone being in different places with different ISPs, all of these are opportunities for issues or failure.”

But despite these setbacks, Mierst was very happy with the results. “Overall, I’m very happy with the production. The team was positive, upbeat and worked diligently to solve problems. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Pay Disputes

The technical drawbacks of hosting tournaments in a pandemic, a lack of professional OWL faith in T2 teams, and the inevitable strain placed on the teams themselves render them more likely to shoot themselves in the foot. Unlike in OWL, T2 Overwatch teams are self-funded, and there is not a lot of money in competition, despite Blizzard proudly boasting a $2,500,000 prize pool throughout all the regions.

Jayda “Jaydasch” Schroepfer, Owner and Manager of European Contenders Team Avoided, provided Hotspawn with payout figures from the official Contenders rules showing the unfortunate icing on the unsettling cake. Jaydasch also noted the numbers may not have been updated, as there were eight teams at the event, not twelve.

(Graphic Courtesy: Overwatch Contenders)

Combine that with most of these teams being run by young, and frankly sometimes inexperienced, staff it turns NA T2 Overwatch into a recipe for disaster. A noteworthy example being Malibu, whose mistreatment and blatant antagonization of their players by their staff after they were dropped ultimately resulted in their demise. Without a proper structure and financial stability, most teams cannot handle the stress of organizing a Contenders team while being virtually penniless.

As much as players and staff alike would love to stress their desire to do so in the hopes of reaching their dreams or to provide experience for future educational pursuits, the fact remains that dreams and experience do not put food in their mouths. The grind is real and it may be the trend, but it doesn’t make it any more healthy and beneficial in the long run.

EU Isn’t Much Better

T2 Overwatch British Hurricane

Live tournaments may be a thing of the past for the foreseeable future. (Source: Blizzard Entertainment)

Last year, Activision Blizzard shut down their offices throughout Europe, effectively laying off their entire European esports division. We have yet to see what effect this will have on T2 Overwatch in 2021, if any, given that the base of operations is most likely to be centralized in the UK. But within the EU T2 Overwatch scene itself, it is seen as a region with little fanfare or talent, despite boasting some of the best players in the region like the British Hurricane.

Wasted Talent?

And yet despite this, many see Europe as often overlooked, especially since there are only two professional OWL teams located in that region. Thankfully, the rather remarkable efforts of Paris Eternal’s General Manager Avalla and the western rebranding of the London Spitfire helped shine a light on the talent there for the first time with big signings going into the 2021 season.

Harry “LEGDAY” Pollitt, veteran Contenders color commentator, saw this problem since the beginning and the reasoning behind it is quite simple.

“It might’ve not made so much sense for many teams [to sign EU players],” he explains. “Spitfire was built out of a pre-purchased pair of Korean cores and until now they wanted to try and build off of that or keep pieces here and there so they didn’t use much EU talent.As for prior and EU scouting in general, it’s kind of a chicken and egg problem. Many EU players got scouted after moving to North America, so many more high tier EU players tried to make the jump assuming it would be a more fruitful ground for pickups. And that makes sense in a way.”

I also asked about how the previous oversight may cause more undue stress on aspiring players, especially those who have less-than-stellar reputations during ranked games. LEGDAY believes that while those behaviors are repugnant, cancel culture isn’t always the right solution.

“I’m a big believer in redemption, personally. I believe that everyone has room to change and to grow, and that might be a symptom of naivete but I think that to eternally condemn people is to not punish but to simply try and purge people from your own existence and, frankly, the world doesn’t work that way.

T2 Overwatch

(Photo courtesy Harry “LEGDAY” Pollitt)

“The question that drags up for some people obviously is ‘What after?’ I think that can descend into a moral quagmire which honestly isn’t worth touching. If they behave disruptively in-game after their ban, it’ll get flagged pretty quickly, but the public aren’t owed updates on these situations, they’re not public hearings or some kind of broadcasted monitoring of previously disruptive individuals.

In my opinion, after the initial ban, I look for players to keep their head down and just grind through their scrims and practices. If they apologise and change their behaviour they don’t deserve to be harassed for their continued existence and participation.”

More Money, More Problems

And also like NA, Blizzard is still lackluster in investing in its EU players financially. If the recent layoffs weren’t enough to show that, it’s the income players and staff receive during the season that shows it the most. Jaydasch pointed out that the lack of a playoff structure made things a bit rough.

“They need to rework the [Contenders] system,” she told Hotspawn. “That seems so weird. It’s rough on teams who are constantly going in and out of Trials Tendies or even OD Trials Tendies.”

Providing the actual payouts for her team Avoided, the amount of income is almost night and day when compared to OWL Pros:

T2 Overwatch Payouts

These payouts are worse than the US stimulus checks. (Source: Jayda “Jaydasch” Schroepfer)

The $2,500,000 prize pool Blizzard has on its Contenders page in bold black writing does stress this being spread across all seven regions, but compared to their profits, it’s just a drop in the bucket. Sadly, no one is stressing that the amount of time taken for VOD reviews, scrims, practice, streaming, along with schoolwork in COVID times, can be much more mentally straining if finances are unstable or low. And that needs to end.

The Real Threat of Moral and Financial Bankruptcy

If there is one thing that can be gained from all of this, it’s the fact that there is still hope for T2 Overwatch in 2021. No one believes for a second that Overwatch League is going anywhere despite the falling viewership. Depending on how quickly vaccine distribution occurs, there could be hopes for a more interactive season in 2022. And with events like FOCC and the addition of new skins rewarded after hours of watching, it’s clear that there is still an audience begging to be pulled in.

But it is also important to remember that financial support from Blizzard is important. They need to pump the millions that their CEO earns back into this minor league. They need to show that the future of Overwatch esports is incredibly important, and this is one of the few times money needs to be thrown at the problem to fix it.

Along with this, the mental stability of players needs to be recognized, especially with players as young as 13 trying to not only sharpen their skills and grab attention from teams, but also to build their brand. This can lead to an impossible amount of pressure for a still forming mind, which can lead to disgusting behavior and disastrous results. Teams need to hire copywriters and mental health professionals. They need to have greater access to mentors and peers who can provide them with the structure that is so desperately needed for them.

Finally, with all the good that the community has done for them, they also have to remember  how unforgiving social media can be. They are willing to cheer for you in the YouTube chat one moment and utterly destroy you in a Reddit forum the next, due to the flippant nature of the fanbase and internet culture in general. The Overwatch community is composed of a diverse group of ages and backgrounds that is turning much more progressive, yet also needs to reckon with their own actions regarding virtue signalling and to not hold underage persons to a standard they haven’t reached themselves.

Because if this scene dies, Overwatch League dies. And we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Blizzard’s Battle.net launcher is getting a much-needed redesign – Engadget

For many, Battle.net is the portal into their favourite PC and macOS video games. Blizzard-owned titles such as Overwatch and World of Warcraft, but also Activision releases such as Call of Duty: Warzone. As PC Gamer explains, though, the client has barely changed in the last eight years. Thankfully, a long overdue update has arrived. The general layout has been overhauled, and it’s now possible to ‘favorite’ games for easy access. The social pane has been reworked too, alongside a new notifications hub for messages and checking downloads. The update will be headed first to North America, followed by other regions “in the coming weeks,” according to a blog post. So if you don’t have it already, just hold tight.

If you’re curious, here’s a full breakdown of everything that’s changed:

Activision Blizzard Price Target: $100 – Insider Monkey

Warren Buffett never mentions this but he is one of the first hedge fund managers who unlocked the secrets of successful stock market investing. He launched his hedge fund in 1956 with $105,100 in seed capital. Back then they weren’t called hedge funds, they were called “partnerships”. Warren Buffett took 25% of all returns in excess of 6 percent. 

For example S&P 500 Index returned 43.4% in 1958. If Warren Buffett’s hedge fund didn’t generate any outperformance (i.e. secretly invested like a closet index fund), Warren Buffett would have pocketed a quarter of the 37.4% excess return. That would have been 9.35% in hedge fund “fees”. 

Actually Warren Buffett failed to beat the S&P 500 Index in 1958, returned only 40.9% and pocketed 8.7 percentage of it as “fees”. His investors didn’t mind that he underperformed the market in 1958 because he beat the market by a large margin in 1957. That year Buffett’s hedge fund returned 10.4% and Buffett took only 1.1 percentage points of that as “fees”. S&P 500 Index lost 10.8% in 1957, so Buffett’s investors actually thrilled to beat the market by 20.1 percentage points in 1957.

Between 1957 and 1966 Warren Buffett’s hedge fund returned 23.5% annually after deducting Warren Buffett’s 5.5 percentage point annual fees. S&P 500 Index generated an average annual compounded return of only 9.2% during the same 10-year period. An investor who invested $10,000 in Warren Buffett’s hedge fund at the beginning of 1957 see his capital turn into $103,000 before fees and $64,100 after fees (this means Warren Buffett made more than $36,000 in fees from this investor).

As you can guess, Warren Buffett’s #1 wealth building strategy is to generate high returns in the 20% to 30% range.

We see several investors trying to strike it rich in options market by risking their entire savings. You can get rich by returning 20% per year and compounding that for several years. Warren Buffett has been investing and compounding for at least 65 years.

So, how did Warren Buffett manage to generate high returns and beat the market?

In a free sample issue of our monthly newsletter we analyzed Warren Buffett’s stock picks covering the 1999-2017 period and identified the best performing stocks in Warren Buffett’s portfolio. This is basically a recipe to generate better returns than Warren Buffett is achieving himself.

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Overwatch League wants to ‘level-up’ online matches, tournaments for 2021 season – The Washington Post

The Overwatch League is attempting to improve on the virtual format it was forced to create last year when the pandemic essentially split the league in two — between Asia and North America. Teams will now regularly compete against opponents outside their region. Four stand-alone tournaments spread through the season are set to pit teams from both regions against each other, which is no simple feat.

The farther two teams are away from each other, the higher the ping and the greater the potential for lag — a delayed response time from a stroke on a keyboard to the game. Professional players prefer competing in-person on local networks because they worry a split-second delay could be the difference between a win or a loss. To combat this, the league is introducing a new tool that means two teams competing against each other online will always play on the same ping.

“It’s a way to sort of move the minimum latency up to a floor where we can put everybody at the same playing field,” Spector said.

Some teams may compete across thousands of miles in 2021. The league is attempting to run global competitions without players having to travel internationally. Spector told The Post they’re planning for top American teams to travel to Hawaii to compete in tournament finals against opponents in Asia.

“What Hawaii allows us to do with undersea cable routing is that we can connect from Hawaii to servers in Asia,” Spector said. “In today’s environment, we feel confident that we can pull that off.”

In December, OWL ran a remote tournament series for Contenders teams using the minimum latency tool Activision Blizzard developed. It’s actually now a feature inside of Overwatch for any player to configure during a custom match.

For Spector, the priority for OWL’s online competitions is ensuring there’s competitive integrity to the results of every match.

“What matters is that, at the end of the day, the best team wins,” Spector said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a problem with that in Overwatch League.”

Most — but not all — of the 20 teams in the OWL will be based in or around the city written on their jersey. The Philadelphia Fusion, one of the top franchises in North America, plan to train and compete in South Korea this year. The New York Excelsior will remain in South Korea, after moving there to compete last season. And, the Los Angeles Valiant will train and play from China in 2021.

Jeffery “blasé” Tsang, an American DPS player now on the London Spitfire roster, told The Post he will be based in Los Angeles, training remotely, while the rest of his team is based in Europe. Last season, the Spitfire and the Paris Eternal both were based in New Jersey.

Activision Blizzard first created the Overwatch League to be a city-based, international sports league that mirrored format of traditional sports franchises. Teams are set in local markets so fans can support their hometown. But OWL has never been able to fully realize that dream. The pandemic made it impossible to hold live events last season and some franchise owners were counting on ticket sales and local sponsorships to balance their team checkbooks. Ticket sales are one of the few revenue streams from which the league does not withhold a sizable percentage.

Spector said the league will decide whether to return to live events on a “market-by-market” basis, adding that teams in China already want to book venues for events later this year. Bilibili, the video-sharing site that owns the Hangzhou Spark, aired a series of in-person exhibition matches hosted by the Shanghai Dragons in early December.

“In some parts of the world, particularly in Asia, I think we’ll hopefully see some live events,” Spector said. “Whether and when it’s safe to do that in the U.S., I don’t know right now. Obviously, it’s not really today.”

When asked whether franchise owners are happy with the online format this season, Spector said the teams “understand the environment we’re all operating in” in the middle of a pandemic that will be “a reality for much of 2021.” Spector said owners are interesting in finding ways to “level up” broadcasting the online matches this season.

To that point, the league announced Thursday they’re working closely with YouTube to improve on the quality of their streams and to “add more value” for fans watching matches live. There are also plans for league videos spotlighting players, teams, tips and analysis from experts.

And then there’s “Overwatch 2.” The upcoming sequel was first announced over a year ago. There’s an expectation from some in OWL that the new title could reignite the fan base for the game and the league. But Activision Blizzard doesn’t have a release date for the sequel. Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan recently said fans can expect more details about Overwatch 2 at Blizzconline in February.

Spector declined to comment on whether Overwatch 2 will have any impact on the 2021 season.

“Can’t wait to talk to you more about Overwatch 2,” Kaplan said. “We still have a ways to go.”

Read more from Launcher:

The Overwatch League’s 2021 season will start in April – The Verge

For its first three years of existence, the Overwatch League has kicked off early in the year. But that’s going to change in 2021. Today, Blizzard announced that its ambitious esports league will begin play in April. It will also be the first season in which the league starts off with remote matches — and there will be some big changes to accommodate that. “To take full advantage of what was learned last season, we’ve made several changes that will improve the quality of competition and the fan experience for this coming season,” Blizzard says.

First is a structural change. Blizzard says the 20-team league will be split into two divisions — one made of teams from China and Korea, the other North America and Europe — and they’ll play against other teams in their region during the regular season. The top teams from each division will then qualify for four major tournaments that will happen throughout the season. (Full details and scheduling aren’t available just yet.)

OWL features teams from 19 cities that are spread across North America, Europe, and Asia, and Blizzard says that it’s developing a new tool to make it possible to play across regions. It’s described as “a new system that establishes minimum latency connections so that teams anywhere in the world can scrimmage against one another or conduct practices if players are apart.”

The league’s first season was in 2018, but last year was expected to be a big one for OWL; the league was going to move to a home-and-away format, similar to traditional sports leagues, with teams playing out of venues in their home cities. Those plans were disrupted by the pandemic, with Blizzard eventually shifting to an online format, which continued through to the championship game.

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The other controversial change in 2020 saw the league shift its broadcast from Twitch to YouTube, after Activision Blizzard signed an exclusive streaming deal with Google. The change came with a decline in viewership, though OWL says it’s planning to improve broadcasts for this upcoming season:

For our fans, we’re working very closely with YouTube as we enter the second year of our partnership. There are a lot of things in the works that we can’t reveal yet, but we can say that we’re going to level up the quality of our match streams, add more value to watching live matches, and improve the discoverability of live Overwatch content.

We’re also making improvements to our match broadcasts with a new and improved virtual set, a freshly redesigned graphics package, and changes to our show format that place even more emphasis on match play. We’ll have more to share on this later in the offseason.

And while the league is planning for a season of largely remote competition, Blizzard also isn’t ruling out a return to live matches in the future. “While we cannot predict the future, we hope to welcome fans back to live events if health and safety conditions improve in 2021, but that might not happen, and it might not be at every location where teams compete,” the league said in a statement. “Our top priority remains to keep our players, fans, and staff safe.”

Yesterday, Activision announced that OWL’s sister league, the Call of Duty League, would begin play in February.

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