The world reels in response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak and the Overwatch League has been among those to adapt by moving matches online. 2020 was a year of massive change for the League, with their decision to implement a full home-away schedule with live homestand events. Last month numerous homestand events were cancelled in Asiatic countries, and soon all homestand events were cancelled across the world.
The Overwatch League will pick up again this weekend after nearly three weeks of being off-air, and the format has changed yet again. First and foremost, expect to see more matches from teams in the Pacific Conference, as they will be catching up on the matches they missed during the cancelled homestands. This weekend only four teams will be competing in Los Angeles to kick off the return of the season.
This week’s matches are as follows:
Saturday, March 21
- San Francisco Shock vs. Seoul Dynasty—11 a.m. PT
- Los Angeles Valiant vs. Los Angeles Gladiators—1 p.m. PT
Sunday, March 22
- Seoul Dynasty vs. vs. Los Angeles Gladiators—11 a.m. PT
- San Francisco Shock vs. Los Angeles Valiant—1 p.m. PT
Divide and Conquer
As usual, the matches will broadcast on Youtube, but the teams playing will vary from the original schedule. All of the teams will play across three regions designed to minimize latency and compartmentalize matches. Representing the West Coast will be the Vancouver Titans, Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock, and Seoul Dynasty. The four China-based teams, the Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, and Shanghai Dragons will be competing against each other, while the Atlantic Conference will represent the East Coast and Texas, and will include Atlanta Reign, Boston Uprising, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, Philadelphia Fusion, New York Excelsior, Paris Eternal, Toronto Defiant, and Washington Justice.
The Overwatch League VP, Jon Spector, stated on March 15th that the Midseason tournament and All-Stars event will be cancelled given the circumstances of the year so far. Hero Pools are still in effect and will be randomly drawn each week with 10% of playtime still being a requirement. Heroes with 10-25% play rate receive one ticket, 25-50% play rate will receive two tickets, 50-75% play rate will receive three tickets, and a 75%+ play rate will give them four tickets in the bingo-esque selection system.
It will take a few weeks for the Overwatch League to stabilize with this new format, and in week eight, 18 of the 20 teams will be playing. The League has done an excellent job of preparing the League to move completely online and is expected to gain viewers given the lack of traditional sports.