Sean Miller, head of Overwatch Esports interview: “OWCS is more accessible than it’s ever been, and its proving to be really exciting.”

Noah Pather

Noah Pather got a chance to sit down with Sean Miller, head of Overwatch Esports, to talk about the OWCS and the competitive ecosystem.

While the teams were duking it out at OWCS Dallas, got a chance to sit down with Overwatch 2's Sean Miller, the head of Overwatch Esports, to talk about the Overwatch Champion Series (OWCS) and the Overwatch ecosystem as a whole.

Sean Miller on Overwatch esports and how far it's come What's it like being the head of Overwatch Esports?

Sean Miller: It's awesome. My dream job. And it's changed a lot in the last few months. Ever since Overwatch League ended and we transitioned into OWCS. I think it's just gotten to be even more fun with this open, accessible ecosystem that we build.

With regards to the creation of the OWCS, did you draw inspiration from other esports and their competitive structures?

Sean Miller: Yeah, as we were going through the design process for these programs, not just for OWCS, we think about Overwatch esports as a kind of overall ecosystem that OWCS, Calling All Heroes, and Collegiate sit inside. I think it'd be kind of silly not to look at other games and how they're doing things — what's working, what may not be working.

I think the cool thing that was helpful about our whole design process is we had not only nearly a decade of Overwatch esports to look at like Overwatch League and before, but also so much history of the esports industry at large. It felt like it all really culminated into what you guys were seeing today with the OWCS.

What do you think the impact of the Esports World Cup has had on both the OWCS and esports in general?

Sean Miller: So with Esports World Cup, a couple of teams promoted through the OWCS are used as a qualifying mechanism. They're still a third-party tournament and, you know, we're just grateful in this kind of new open ecosystem to have. More opportunities to play, more opportunities to earn prize pools, and more opportunities for the players and teams to really make a name for themselves.

What are some of the biggest challenges that the OWCS had to overcome?

Sean Miller: I'd say the biggest challenge was getting things turned around so quickly. We knew pretty early on that we wanted to have as little amount of time between when Overwatch League Grand Finals ended and when we would start up the new ecosystem.

But to do that, a lot of things have to fall into place and then getting our partners all ready to go. And that was a long sprint. I think it made it worth it because it really feels like we haven't missed a beat. We started OWCS around the same time if not earlier than Overwatch League would have started that year. So it's pretty incredible that not only was that offseason shorter than typical, but it was an entirely new ecosystem.

Overwatch esports at DreamHack Dallas 2024

Do you have a favorite moment so far from DreamHack?

Sean Miller: My favorite moment from yesterday wasn't even game related. It's related to what I think is so important and not only to esports but broader sports, which is building storylines and personalities. It was watching Students of the Game get to graduate.

Students of the Game graduate and dawn their new NRG Shock jerseys (Image via ESL)
Students of the Game graduate and dawn their new NRG Shock jerseys (Image via ESL)

And you see it and you're like, "This is going to be in those highlight reels that we're going to show first 100%." That was just really exciting for me. Just the way they did it on stage, the excitement, the reveal, and they are such a beloved team.

What does it mean to have the OWCS at an event like DreamHack?

Sean Miller: It means a lot to us because one of the key pillars as we were building the Overwatch ecosystem is how do we get more integrated into the broader esports and gaming scene. To your point, there's fans from all types of games and even entertainment properties here at DreamHack.

I think what really kind of affirmed that belief that we're doing the right thing was yesterday. When there were crowds standing around the Overwatch Champions Series stage right in the broadcast. The interest/demand has been even better than we thought it would be, which is always good news.

The massive crowd at DreamHack Dallas for the OWCS (Image via ESL)
The massive crowd at DreamHack Dallas for the OWCS (Image via ESL)

Sean Miller and the future of Overwatch esports

So what's something we haven't talked about that you'd like to share?

Sean Miller: I think the only thing we haven't touched on as deeply is the the power of an open ecosystem and how the vision of Overwatch esports, since the beginning, was about somebody playing the game that was really good and with as little friction as possible, being able to get up to one of these stages in front of thousands of fans. I think Overwatch Champions Series is more accessible than it's ever been, and it's proving to be really exciting.

Students of the Game, in particular, players who we know nobody necessarily would have put a peg on or signed a team but like, here they are they perform really well. So I think making that more accessible to our players is just so important to us because it really brings the sport to another level.

[It's] showing the path [of] "If I'm playing poker with my friends, I can, if we're good enough, we can make it to that top level, right?" It's a lot of presenting the opportunity.

What's in store for the future of the OWCS?

Sean Miller: A theme we went through with the revamp of Overwatch esports was that Overwatch, at its core, is this highly competitive shooter and we remain committed to esports and building on this. While I can't say exactly what a 2025 will look like or anything like that — a big reason why is because we remain committed but we also remain flexible in a way that I think we haven't been able to be in the past.

We're learning as we go, I think this is all pretty new to a lot of people. We are actively looking at data points across kind of all the aspects of the ecosystem to inform how future years will look. Soin this process, we're early.

For more Overwatch 2 content, stay tuned to