Overwatch, Fortnite and Ninja win big at the Esports Awards 2018
The esports industry honored Overwatch League's massive success and the Fortnite craze in London
The Esports Awards is the scene’s big black tie event, where pro gamers and streamers sit alongside the heads of game publishers, cheering on as the stars of the industry receive awards for their achievements.
And two games stood out this year: Blizzard Entertainment’s first-person shooter Overwatch, and Epic Games’ battle royale sensation Fortnite.
Overwatch League celebrated an incredibly successful inaugural season in 2018, with the OWL Finals drawing in 10.8 million viewers globally across two days. The OWL playoffs also marked the first time an esports tournament aired live on ESPN in prime time.
And that successful season scored the game several big wins and nominations across the board at the Esports Awards 2018.
Overwatch won the Esports Live Event of the Year for the OWL Grand Finals and Esports Game of the Year. Blizzard Entertainment also won Esports Publisher of the Year for Overwatch.
Overwatch’s star players like JJoNak and Profit were also nominated for Esports PC Player of the Year.
Similarly, Epic Games was also recognized for Fortnite’s sudden explosion onto the esports scene. While the company is still working on its official esports tournaments for the game, fans around the world have been hosting dozens of competitions already.
So to no one’s surprise, the crazy, cartoonish Fortnite won Esports Breakthrough Game of the Year. Its rival battle royale game, PUBG, won the same award last year.
At the event, Senior Game Designer Brian Lawson explained that the game’s success comes from Fortnite’s ability to appeal to all types of gamers.
“It all comes down to trying to keep the game fun for everyone,” said Lawson. “So there’s something there for the competitive pro-player, and there’s something there for the guy who wants to depend on his mobile. It’s just trying to keep it fun, and light hearted and easy to get into.”
Epic Games’ celebration was slightly dampened however when YouTuber Deji Olatunji (a.k.a. ComedyShortsGamer) was tasked with presenting the Esports Publisher of the Year awards. After ranting about Twitch at the podium, Deji opened the envelope and declared enthusiastically, “This award goes to.... EPIC GAMES!”
As the music cued and the camera panned to Lawson standing up, Deji suddenly shouted, “No I’m joking! I’m joking! It’s a joke, it goes to Blizzard. Well done Blizzard.”
You can watch the full moment in this clip here.
It turns out Epic Games actually won second place.
Hosts Sjokz and Goldenboy salvaged the awkwardness by praising the publishers for their crucial roles in the esports industry, going off script to recognize the publishers for developing the games and their respective competitive gaming leagues.
Another major award of the night was for the Esports Organization of the Year. American esports organization Cloud9 came away with that honor.
It was well-deserved. This has been a strong, record setting year for the organization. Its Overwatch League team, London Spitfire, was the inaugural season Grand Finals champions. Cloud9’s CS:GO team also became the first U.S. team to win a CS:GO major. Its League of Legends team was also the first North American Team to ever reach the Semifinals of Worlds. And just over the weekend, Cloud9 because the first North American team to win the Rocket League World Championship.
It’s not just gaming companies and esports players who were recognized for their contribution to the esports industry.
ESPN’s Esports Staff Writer Jacob Wolf was presented with the Esports Journalist of the Year trophy for his reporting. After thanking his editors, Wolf also used the moment to defend journalism, pointing out the industry in the US is under fire and constantly dubbed “the enemy of the people”.
However he followed up with a tone of encouragement.
“To my young colleagues, do not let this deter you,” Wolf said. “More now than ever, whether in esports or not, journalism is needed. To give the news impartially without any fear or favor, regardless of any party, sector or interest involved.”
This year’s Esports Awards saw a lot more new names and new categories as the industry continues to grow. For the past two years, MOBAs have won the Live Event and the Publisher awards. While games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 were behind esports’ rapid rise, it’s time for new titles to take over.
Here’s a full list of the awards and the winners of the night:
- Esports Unsung Hero Of The Year: Milos ‘Faceit Mikey’ Nedeljkovic
- Esports Videographer of the Year: Davis ‘Hitch’ Edwards
- Streaming Platform of the Year: Twitch
- Esports Breakthrough Game of the Year: Fortnite
- Esports Console Rookie of the Year: Kenny Williams
- Esports PC Rookie of the Year: Gabriel ‘Bwipo’ Rau
- Esports Photographer of the Year: Stephanie Lindgren
- Esports Coverage Website of the Year: ESPN Esports
- Esports Team of the Year: Astralis (CS:GO)
- Esports Supporting Agency of the Year: Evolved Talent Agency
- Esports Commercial Partner of the Year: Intel
- Esports Journalist of the Year: Jacob Wolf
- Esports Hardware Provider of the Year: Nvidia
- Esports Play of the Year: Attach (FaZe Clan)
- Esports Live Event of the Year: Overwatch League Grand Final 2018
- Esports Broadcaster of the Year: Clint ‘Maven’ Evans
- Esports Publisher of the Year: Blizzard
- Esports Game of the Year: Overwatch
- Esports Personality of the Year: Tyler 'Ninja' Blevins
- Streamer of the Year: Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins
- Esports Console Player of the Year: Mossad ‘MSdossary’ Aldossary
- Esports Organisation of the Year: Cloud9