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#1 2018-09-27 02:51:47

zhangzk
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out on the field hours

NEW YORK (AP) The Overwatch League has planted its flag atop the esports mountain. But just like its twitchy-thumbed superstars Authentic Jameis Winston Jersey , the premier circuit can’t afford to sit still.

Not as long as Fortnite commands the rest of the gaming universe.

The Fortnite phenomenon has put Overwatch in a strange position. The Overwatch League’s inaugural season has been a barrier-breaking achievement, but Blizzard Entertainment’s 6-on-6 first-person shooter isn’t nearly the world’s most popular video game. That would be Fortnite, a battle royale that has transcended gaming and smashed into the mainstream unlike any title in years. Overwatch executives say they aren’t nearly panicked because of one grand gamble: their deep pockets and impressive infrastructure can keep Fortnite from making a successful charge for the crown.

THE LEAGUE

A top-selling game doesn’t necessarily make an elite esport – the latter requires a professional circuit, loyal fans and a product that’s just as enjoyable to watch as to play.

The Overwatch League has set the standard for esports in its first season. Ten million fans watched its opening weekend, and 100-150 thousand tuned in for every second of the regular season. The league’s two-night championship sold out Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, and the opening night aired live on ESPN, the network’s first live broadcast of esports in prime time. The league has a fierce and sizable stable of fans, big-name investors like New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the momentum of a monumental first season.

FORMIDABLE FORTNITE

Yet video gamers are clearly more ravenous for Fortnite. The breakout title from Epic Games has 125 million global players, compared to 40 million for Overwatch. Perhaps more jarring, Google searches for ”Fortnite” outpaced ”Overwatch” 14-to-1 in the week leading up to the Overwatch League Grand Finals.

Fortnite’s crossover appeal is unrivaled, a fact most recently on display when France’s Antoine Griezmann celebrated a goal in the World Cup Final with a dance move popularized by the game .

How could Overwatch not be terrified of a competitor with that kind of organic reach?

Simple: it doesn’t see Fortnite as competition – yet.

”Fortnite right now is 99 percent a game and not an esport,” said Ari Segal, president of Immortals Gaming, which runs Overwatch’s Los Angeles Valiant. ”But I think obviously there’s a path for it to become an esport.”

The distinction is key. Structured, competitive Fortnite events are still in their infancy Authentic Kirk Cousins Jersey , and Epic has a ways to go to match the professional experience provided to Overwatch League fans. Epic began that effort by promising in May to offer $100 million in Fortnite esports prize pools – an enormous sum for the industry.

Yet early returns have been shaky, like when the Fortnite Summer Skirmish Series was cancelled mid-play due to technical issues. The tournament has also been hindered by conservative game play, with players waiting until the last possible moment to engage. In a statement, Epic said that it ”under delivered” in what was supposed to be its first marquee esports event while laying out plans to improve the viewing experience.

Epic did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

”It takes a lot more than a press release to build an esport,” Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer said. ”I think I can speak as well as most that there’s a ton of investment and planning and infrastructure that you need to build in order to do professional esports at a high quality bar.”

THE GRAND FINALS

Overwatch’s Grand Finals have been a showcase for that. All it takes is one look at the 165-foot-wide, 36-foot-tall LED screen behind the Barclays Center stage – players and fans alike have been in awe of the massive display this weekend.

But it runs deeper than flashy tech. The league’s broadcasts on Twitch have been nearly flawless technologically all season. Its teams have impressive support staffs including chefs, physical trainers and PR managers. Even the in-event entertainment is first-rate: DJ Khaled will perform at Saturday’s championship finale.

Which isn’t to say Overnight is a finished product. There’s work to be done packaging its events, especially for casual fans. Blizzard plans to experiment with its broadcast structure to better serve diehards and newbies alike. Those adjustments began with more explanatory segments on the ESPN show for uninitiated viewers, and the league will use feedback from that to shape coverage for next season.

”What I saw on Twitter was fun,” said Pete Vlastelica, President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. ”I liked seeing the healthy debate between the old-school, old-guard sports audience who wondered what they were watching and then a lot of young sports fans who were very excited by what they were seeing.”

Even as it experiments, everything about the league has the look and feel of a top-notch pro sports organization, and that’s been a matter of investment and expertise for Blizzard and its team owners – a group that includes Kraft, New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

Esports organizations Womens Le'Veon Bell Jersey , like Segal’s Immortals, are keeping a close eye on Fortnite.

”Do you have the access to capital and the human resource capacity and the organizational bandwidth to be nimble and flexible to evaluate whatever that next thing is?” Segal asked. ”With respect to Fortnite, it’s an ongoing evaluation.”

BUILT TO LAST

At some point, it seems likely that Fortnite – or perhaps The Super Bowl MVP has lost his magic touch. Nick Foles isn't playing like himself.

Foles threw two interceptions in the first half and Philadelphia's starting offense 鈥?missing some key players 鈥?struggled again while waiting for quarterback Carson Wentz to return and the Eagles were beaten 5-0 on Thursday night by the Cleveland Browns.

Foles, who replaced an injured Wentz last season and led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title while becoming a cult hero, continued his ugly preseason. He did complete 13 of 17 passes for 127 yards, but he threw the picks and was sacked three times, stripped for a fumble and downed for a safety.

His overall statistics were better than a week ago against New England when he hurt his shoulder, but he made two poor decisions and hasn't led the Eagles' first-team offense to a point on 14 drives over three games.

"There are times where I'm feeling good, but I'm making some mistakes," Foles said. "It's as simple as that."

The Eagles (0-3) committed four turnovers, allowed seven sacks and missed a field goal. With just two weeks left to get ready for their opener against Atlanta, the Super Bowl winners have work to do.

At this point, Foles, the unlikely hero from last season Womens Khalil Mack Jersey , will likely start the season as the Eagles wait for Wentz, who recently began working in 11-on-11 drills, to be cleared following knee surgery.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson was upset with his team's offensive performance, not just Foles.

"I don't want to single out one player, so don't put this all on Nick," Pederson said. "I'm disappointed in the offense. It's not what you want obviously in the third preseason week. We still want to evaluate and make sure we got the right guys in the right spots."

Cleveland had a familiar quarterback scare.

Starter Tyrod Taylor injured his left hand in the first quarter, and the sight of him heading to the sideline sent a shiver through fans in FirstEnergy Stadium. Rookie Baker Mayfield replaced him for two series before Taylor returned. Cleveland's starter finished 11 of 16 for 65 yards.

Taylor stayed in the locker room after halftime to receiver treatment. He left the stadium before speaking with reporters.

Coach Hue Jackson said X-rays were negative but Taylor will undergo more tests Friday.

"I was very concerned, but I wouldn't have put him back in if I didn't think he was fine," Jackson said. "We'll continue to look at it and see where we are going into next week."

Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick, played the entire second half and went 8 of 12 for 76 yards and an interception. He was checked for a concussion in the second half.

"Not my best game by any means," Mayfield said. "I'm disappointed in myself. I got in there with the first team and I've got to get the ball out quickly. Not my best game at all."

The Browns intend for Taylor to start this season while Mayfield develops, with the only thing that might alter the plan being an injury 鈥?something Cleveland knows all too well while cycling through 28 starting QBs since 1999.

With Foles behind center, the Eagles' first-team offense, which was missing wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor Youth Terrell Suggs Jersey , running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles and left tackle Jason Peters, hasn't scored a point in three exhibitions.

Foles floated a long pass that safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun easily intercepted . Then, with a chance to finally score, Foles forced a throw into a crowd near the goal line and was picked by linebacker Jamie Collins.

"I'm just making mistakes," Foles said. "For me, it's just getting back into rhythm 鈥?and keep playing ball. We had an opportunity to win and made too many mistakes and that's on me. If I clean that up, we win this game."

DEFENSE OK

Philadelphia's defense recorded four sacks and Cleveland's only scoring drive 鈥?before a 54-yard field goal 鈥?was for minus-1 yard.

The Eagles also stopped the Browns on four plays from the 1.

"Our defense played outstanding. They were flying around, making plays," Pederson said. "The goal-line stand was pretty impressive. That's what your want from your defense."

INJURIES

Eagles: Starting C Jason Kelce limped off after making a block during the opening series. He did agility and stretching drills under the guidance of the training staff and returned for Philadelphia's next possession.

Browns: First-round pick Denzel Ward will undergo an MRI after suffering a back injury in the first quarter. Ward appeared to get twisted while tackling 250-pound tight end Zach Ertz. Ward, the No. 4 overall pick, was on the field for several minutes before walking off on his own power. ... Starting S Damarious Randall did not dress because of a knee injury. He was not on the team's original "not expected to play" list and Jackson said his knee locked up during pregame warmups. ... Rookie WR Antonio Callaway did not dress after missing three practices with a groin injury.

NATIONAL ANTHEM

Eagles starting safety Malcolm Jenkins remained in the tunnel during the national anthem, and defensive end Michael Bennett also was not on the field. Jenkins and Bennett have been among of the league's most outspoken players during the ongoing controversy over players expressing their political views during "The Star-Spangled Banner." Jenkins previously stood on the sideline with a raised fist to protest social injustice.

WENTZ WATCH

Wentz worked out on the field hours before kickoff with a group of Eagles receivers. He looked good on his drops while rifling slant routes and quick-hitters.

TOUCH DOWN

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett was credited with sacking Foles in the end zone for the game's first two points.

Foles lost his footing while backing up, fell to one knee and was touched by Garrett. Foles completed a pass on the play, but the Browns challenged it and were awarded a  Authentic Womens Harrison Phillips Jersey

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2018-09-27 02:51:47

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