Thousands of esports fans gathered at The Anthem this past weekend for the first set of Overwatch League matches hosted by The Washington Justice.
The Washington Justice, D.C.’s professional Overwatch League esports team, kicked off its 2019 season from Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California. The team played from various locations throughout the season, before returning home this year for the 2020 season.
Over Feb. 22 and 23, six matches were hosted at The Anthem, a music venue and auditorium in the District Wharf area. The Washington Justice partnered with PenFed Credit Union to host the inaugural homestand in the District, alongside its 2020 season sponsor Events DC, the District’s official convention and sports authority.
Ticket holders were able to watch three matches each day, with the Washington Justice playing in the feature matches. During the breaks, attendees got to witness aerialists perform from Astarte Creative. After Saturday’s matches, locally-grown DJ Kool performed live. PenFed Credit Union treated select fans and its members to a VIP lounge, decked out with plush couches and special merchandise. The Washington Justice even sold out all of its away team jerseys over the weekend.
The matches were streamed on YouTube Gaming, with Saturday’s events completely selling out at 2,200 tickets.
The Washington Justice took on the Paris Eternal on Saturday, Feb. 22, suffering a 1-3 loss. D.C.’s Overwatch team also challenged the London Spitfire, on Sunday, Feb. 23, where it was also defeated in a 2-3 loss. Despite the losses, some Washington Justice teammates still left the arena with positive thoughts.
“I want to thank the fans for coming to the homestands. It was really good energy and a fantastic experience despite the loss,” said Washington Justice player Yeonjun Hong, who goes by Ark in the Overwatch universe.
Here’s the results from the other matches from the weekend:
Saturday, Feb. 22
- Philadelphia Fusion defeated New York Excelsior, 3-1
- Boston Uprising defeated the Houston Outlaws, 3-2
Sunday, Feb. 23
- New York Excelsior defeated Houston Outlaws, 3-0
- Philadelphia Fusion defeated Toronto Defiant, 3-2
“It was a really amazing experience to see the crowd. It was such good energy,” said Washington Justice player Minseok Kwon, who goes by Amigod. “We are looking forward to the many homestands matches we have this season.”
Here’s a look at the remaining homestand weekends the Washington Justice will host in D.C.:
- March 7 to 8 at The Anthem
- April 4 to 5 at The Anthem
- May 30 to 31 at Entertainment and Sports Arena
- June 20 to 21 at Entertainment and Sports Arena
All in all, this inaugural homestand weekend was truly an astounding sight to see, especially for this reporter who was experiencing Overwatch games for the first time. It was interesting to see the passion behind the fans for the esports community that’s consistently growing here.
“The energy at the Anthem this weekend was incredible. Esports fans and people new to esports were all blown away by what they experienced,” said Mark Ein, The Washington Justice team owner. “The atmosphere in the arena and the intensity and passion of the audience demonstrated why live esports will be a big part of the sports and entertainment landscape long into the future.”
And though attendees came to see their favorite esports teams face off, they got to witness another special moment:
Congratulations to Anthony and Katrina! Such a beautiful proposal! 💍 🥰
— Washington Justice (@washjustice) February 23, 2020
Here’s some more encouraging words from players and fans after the weekend’s events:
Heartbreaking loss and it’s damn hard to see my team put the remainder of their energy out there
Grateful for a two day break for the guys to recover and get back into better shape
Thank you DC, this homestand was still amazing and the crowd did so much to hype our team up❤️
— Analynn Dang (@bawlynn) February 24, 2020
wish we could have put on a better show but god damn I love you guys for supporting us anyways. we come back stronger next time
— Stratus (@StratusEclipse) February 24, 2020
Not the ending we wanted, but this weekend was absolutely incredible. Thank you @washjustice for being the best fans and coming out for our inaugural homestand #JusticeIsHome pic.twitter.com/UXuXafmv0A
— Grant Paranjape (@Keiranthil) February 24, 2020