For its first three years of existence, the Overwatch League has kicked off early within the 12 months. However that’s going to alter in 2021. In the present day, Blizzard introduced that its formidable esports league will start play in April. It’ll even be the primary season wherein the league is performed completely on-line — and there shall be some large modifications to accommodate that. “To take full benefit of what was realized final season, we’ve made a number of modifications that can 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 product of groups from China and Korea, the opposite North America and Europe — and so they’ll play towards different groups of their area throughout the common season. The highest groups from every division will then qualify for 4 main tournaments that can occur all through the season. (Full particulars and scheduling aren’t out there simply but.)
OWL options groups from 19 cities which are unfold throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, and Blizzard says that it’s creating a brand new instrument to make it potential to play throughout areas. It’s described as “a brand new system that establishes minimal latency connections in order that groups anyplace on this planet can scrimmage towards each other or conduct practices if gamers are aside.”
The league’s first season was in 2018, however final 12 months was anticipated to be a giant one for OWL; the league was going to maneuver to a home-and-away format, much like conventional sports activities leagues, with groups enjoying out of venues of their residence cities. These plans had been disrupted by the pandemic, with Blizzard finally shifting to a web based format, which continued via to the championship recreation.
The opposite controversial change in 2020 noticed the league shift its broadcast from Twitch to YouTube, after Activision Blizzard signed an unique streaming take care of 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 12 months of our partnership. There are quite a lot 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 dwell matches, and enhance the discoverability of dwell Overwatch content material.
We’re additionally improving our match broadcasts with a brand new and improved digital set, a freshly redesigned graphics bundle, 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 dwell matches sooner or later. “Whereas we can not predict the long run, we hope to welcome followers again to dwell occasions if well being and security circumstances enhance in 2021, however that may not occur, and it won’t be at each location the place groups compete,” the league stated in an announcement. “Our high precedence stays to maintain our gamers, followers, and employees protected.”
Yesterday, Activision introduced that OWL’s sister league, the Name of Obligation League, would start play in February.