For its first three years of existence, the Overwatch League has kicked off early within the yr. However that’s going to vary in 2021. Right now, Blizzard introduced that its formidable esports league will start play in April. It would even be the primary season through which the league is performed completely on-line — and there shall be some huge modifications to accommodate that. “To take full benefit of what was discovered final season, we’ve made a number of modifications that may enhance the standard of competitors and the fan expertise for this coming season,” Blizzard says.
First is a structural change. Blizzard says the 20-team league shall be break up into two divisions — one manufactured from groups from China and Korea, the opposite North America and Europe — and so they’ll play in opposition to different groups of their area through the common season. The highest groups from every division will then qualify for 4 main tournaments that may occur all through the season. (Full particulars and scheduling aren’t accessible simply but.)
OWL options groups from 19 cities which might be unfold throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, and Blizzard says that it’s creating a brand new instrument to make it doable to play throughout areas. It’s described as “a brand new system that establishes minimal latency connections in order that groups wherever on this planet can scrimmage in opposition to each other or conduct practices if gamers are aside.”
The league’s first season was in 2018, however final yr was anticipated to be a giant one for OWL; the league was going to move to a home-and-away format, just like conventional sports activities leagues, with groups enjoying out of venues of their house cities. These plans had been disrupted by the pandemic, with Blizzard eventually shifting to an online format, which continued via to the championship game.
The opposite controversial change in 2020 noticed the league shift its broadcast from Twitch to YouTube, after Activision Blizzard signed an exclusive streaming deal with Google. The change got here with a decline in viewership, although OWL says it’s planning to enhance broadcasts for this upcoming season:
For our followers, we’re working very intently with YouTube as we enter the second yr of our partnership. There are a number of issues within the works that we will’t reveal but, however we will say that we’re going to degree up the standard of our match streams, add extra worth to watching stay matches, and enhance the discoverability of stay Overwatch content material.
We’re additionally bettering our match broadcasts with a brand new and improved digital set, a freshly redesigned graphics package deal, and modifications to our present format that place much more emphasis on match play. We’ll have extra to share on this later within the offseason.
And whereas the league is planning for a season of largely distant competitors, Blizzard additionally isn’t ruling out a return to stay matches sooner or later. “Whereas we can not predict the long run, we hope to welcome followers again to stay occasions if well being and security circumstances enhance in 2021, however which may not occur, and it won’t be at each location the place groups compete,” the league mentioned in an announcement. “Our prime precedence stays to maintain our gamers, followers, and workers secure.”
Yesterday, Activision introduced that OWL’s sister league, the Name of Obligation League, would begin play in February.