Since the second season of Overwatch got underway, Blizzard's shooter got right back on track in Gaming Cafes all over Korea, essentially continuing its domination right where it had left off at the end of Season 1. LoL - which had bounced back to the top of the pops as soon as Overwatch went "on break" - got once again dethroned, and in a rather convincing manner too. What exactly does all this mean, who tracks the popularity of games in Korean gaming cafes and why should anyone care?
Let's start with the beginning: following its release, Overwatch immediately shot to the top of preferences of Korean gamers. After season 1 wrapped up, LoL took over again, and the reasons for that were obvious: with only Quick Play left on the Overwatch plate, people didn't feel as invested in Blizzard's new IP anymore. In hindsight though, the break was absolutely necessary: everything got reset for Season 2 and people do indeed like the changes, so it was also worth it. As soon as Season 2 launched, Overwatch re-took the lead by a 10% margin, quite a bit bigger than the 2% LoL had built up during the "break".
The popularity of games in Korean gaming cafes is tracked by a website called Gametrics, and the resulting data is used by the said cafes to make sure they cater to their customers' needs.
Why is this kind of data significant though? Korea, with its well-integrated eSports scene, being the birthplace of competitive gaming and to this day acting as a sort of gaming superpower, is indeed the best spot to take the pulse of the gaming community, especially in regards to the popularity of various titles. In addition to all that, this sort of data -gathering couldn't possibly get any more grassroots than by exploring the gaming cafe scene. With all that in mind, it is safe to say that data yielded by these grassroots establishments in a country long thought of as the stronghold and trailblazer of eSports, does indeed carry global significance.
Peter Wassenberg works for the Overwatch rankings section of Gosugamers.net, the web's top eSports destination.