The most recent Overwatch developer's update strayed from the normal topics of balance, new heroes, and seasonal events, and instead geared itself toward a different issue: esports. The main focus of the update was the long awaited spectating improvements for Overwatch tournaments.
The first spectator change announced in the update was the introduction of team uniforms, which will debut at the Overwatch World Cup playoffs at BlizzCon. Teams will have home and away uniforms, with the two being darker and lighter variants respectively. Additionally, effects and abilities that normally replicate the reds and blues of the team that uses them will now be colored to match the teams' uniforms.
Broadcasters will be given new tools to help them observe and cast matches, with the next upcoming feature being a top-down interactive map (that is overlayed on top of the action). According to Jeff Kaplan, "[The map] lets them see all of the action at once and know where everybody on either team is at all times." The map also has indicators for each player's ultimate status and any buffs/debuffs applied to them. It seems unlikely that the map will be regularly visible to audiences, although it is expected that broadcasters will be able to show it at during streams.
Other features revealed include a third-person camera that automatically follows the action of a match, as well as a live replay system connected to the kill feed. Observers will be able to click on the kill feed to bring up a replay with total camera controls.
Additionally, the developer update announced changes that should assist tournament administrators. A tournament interface has been added that will allow organizers and administrators to create and setup lobbies in advance. Tournament matches will also now automatically pause when a player disconnects.
The developer update was not the only source of information for the new spectating experience recently, as a PTR update went up this week that included some of the changes for the new spectator mode. Most notably, there were spectator HUD changes, thicker player outlines, and symbols added above heroes to show what abilities they are using. The last change is most easily seen when spectating Lúcio, who constantly has a symbol for his healing or speed boosting aura above his head.
The full changes made for tournament spectating will be showcased at the Overwatch World Cup playoffs at BlizzCon on November 3 and 4.