Broadcasters Struggling to Give Context and Meaning to Game Stats

December 07th
written by Karahol
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Displaying stats on broadcast has been a headache for all tournament organizers in the Overwatch scene. In some cases context is missing, in other cases crucial stats are missing and in others stats are just little fun facts with no real value. In this article, I am going to discuss three approaches from recently concluded tournaments, the pros and cons of each one of them and share some of my thoughts on how Blizzard should handle them for the Overwatch League.

The tournaments I will examine in chronological order are: Overwatch Contenders S1, APAC Premier 2017 and the Overwatch World Cup playoffs.

During Contenders S1, a serious attempt was made to incorporate stats in the desk analysis segments and to try and present to the audience another layer of information regarding players’ performances. However, the time to break them down was very limited and the presentations suffered from grave mistakes at times, making it very difficult for everyone to understand the comparisons or take them seriously. More than that, the audience was not familiar with some of the metrics used at all and especially the way they are calculated so as to be able to understand the comparisons or how big the differences were. In my opinion, focusing too much on the player level was a big mistake, since there were other categories of data to show, like map winrates, map pickrates and such, which are far more objective and crucial when discussing a team game like Overwatch.

contenders stats

This was the case with APAC Premier 2017, that had a very clear hierarchy in the stats displayed. The organizers presented data for both teams and players in a very pleasant and visually engaging way but it still wasn’t perfect. Ranked SR or DPI on a player card in a tournament environment are plenty meaningless. They are surely numbers that casual players can relate to or maybe want to know, but they are not at all performance-related.  On the other hand, map stats and their presentation were fine and all I could ask for. One could see how many times a team had picked the map before, their winrate on it and also which maps, in general the team preferred the most. At the end of each map, a player from the winning team was crowned the MVP of that map based on his performance and a stats card was shown with his eliminations, deaths and hero damage done. These were definitely not the best stats to judge playesr’ performance by but it was a step in the right direction.

apac stats

APAC concluded on the week prior to the Overwatch World Cup playoffs, in which the new spectating features were to be revealed. In the video that teased them one segment was devoted to a new way to view all player in-game stats side-by-side, and possibly compare them, that we never got to see on broadcast. What we got actually were mostly fun facts about players’ performances with very limited context and the same player cards we got last year, with hero use stats that offered little insight since they were missing crucial information. No map stats. No stats analysis segments on desk. And every time I read those popups mid-fight, I was trying to understand if what was said had any substantial value or was just a fun fact. Player stats  tabs (deaths/eliminations/damage done/ultimate kills) were fine, though.

world cup 2017 stats

The answer on how to properly utilize stats on broadcast, going into the Overwatch League, is in the middle of these three approaches, combining the good points of all of them.

Map stats are very crucial in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of teams map-wise and how the match can unfold, while at the same time they are the most objective ones and help keep track of teams’ progress throughout the tournament. Analysts don’t even need to waste time analyzing them since they are so straightforward. MVP cards at the end of the maps, combined with proper “wow” stats for the players who had the best performance with certain abilities/ultimates, would also work wonderfully to help viewers identify the players that had the most impactful performances per map and keep an eye out for them moving forward. Finally, for pre-match analysis, I would avoid doing player comparisons, unless there is a large enough sample size of matches played between the teams, and I would focus more on the player’s progress throughout the tournament, comparing his own numbers to the averages and highlighting the areas he’s way above or below.

I am looking forward to seeing how the OWL organizers will handle this aspect of the tournament in the preseason matches.

Featured image is courtesy of Blizzard.