Overwatch League team Toronto Defiant will be taking on the Houston Outlaws at the Blizzard Arena today.
This battle will mark the team’s first regular match of the season, and already over 250 Toronto fans have registered for the Overwatch season opener viewing party located at a local esports bar.
The CEO of OverActive Media, Toronto Defiant’s ownership group, sat down with CGMagazine for an interview about the team as a whole and how he has been bringing his experience with the the Toronto Raptors and the Canadian Olympic Committee to the table.
“Our goals for the Defiant are no different than they might have been in those early days of the Raptors,” CEO Chris Overholt said. He explained he’s constantly having conversations with his team and their marketing partners, and how they could take lessons from those early years of building out the Toronto Raptors franchise.
“We’re working hard right now to establish ourselves in these esports communities both here in Toronto, across the country, and globally,” Overholt added. “We’re trying to stand up to the reputation of the Defiant brand, and we do that both in the way we market and socialize the brand on all of the platforms, but also in terms of the engagement with our players.”
Overholt recalled how in its early years, the Toronto Raptors also had viewing parties. He said finding ways for fans to interact with the team would have been great if a social media platform like Twitter existed back then.
“We’re working hard on on the platforms, particularly Twitter, to make sure that we’re connecting with the fans and that we’re doing it in an authentic way,” Overholt told CGMagazine.
Over on Toronto Defiant’s Twitter, there are constant updates on how the team is doing, information about their next match, as well as videos about each Overwatch player. On the team’s YouTube page, a video series on what makes Toronto Defiant what it is has been uploaded for the fans and community to enjoy.
Both the tweets and videos have a strong focus on storytelling, and that is no coincidence to Overholt. He recalled its effectiveness when he worked with the Canadian Olympic Committee. “What I thought we were particularly good at in those years that we all worked together — was storytelling,” he said. “We really tried to put our athletes at the heart of the brand.”
Overholt explained that because of this experience, OverActive Media is now able to do the same for Overwatch players. He pointed out how OverActive Media’s vice president, Paulo Senra, has been a big part of his previous and current storytelling team.
As the Toronto Defiant’s Overwatch League opening match nears, Overholt said he is proud of what the team has accomplished so far. “Bishop has done a really nice job of selecting a team that is connected. They’re friends as much as they are teammates,” he explained, referring to Lee Boum-jum, Toronto Defiant’s head coach.
“We’re trying to define the brand, and the best thing that they can do for our fans and for themselves is just to continue to play competitively every day,” Overholt added. “We want to be a winning organization. We want to have a reputation for always being contenders in whatever game title we’re playing in. And I think our guys are already headed in that direction.”
“I think they’re instinctively very competitive and the little bit that we’ve seen of them in match play has been really encouraging. So we’re excited for our future in our country,” he said.
Overholt told CGMagazine that the fan support of Toronto Defiant has been incredible as well. He recalled the team’s reveal event back in October 2018, as well as the recent meet and greet at EB Games. Overholt said today’s viewing party will only add to the excitement and showcase just how much fan support means to the Overwatch League team.
“The Overwatch League is going to be on that big screen, and that’s pretty incredible,” he said. “That’s only made possible by the support of our fans already. We want to be good to that support, we want to honour that support and just continue to work together with them to build out our franchise here.”
Toronto Defiant’s season opener Overwatch League match will begin at 7 p.m. ET today. The viewing party will be located at the Real Sports Bar on 267 Yonge Street. For fans who cannot make it in person, the team’s Discord will be having an online viewing party.