We are days away from the new year which normally means new fitness goals, new attitude changes, and personal and professional development. However, for me, a new year means a whole new Overwatch League season! The Overwatch League, or OWL, is going to be kicking off its third season on February 8th, and it seems the league itself and the teams are undergoing some major changes. Today, I’m going to be breaking down all of the changes that have taken place to the Overwatch League before I start my off-season analysis for each of the 20 teams.
First off, there will now be home and away games for all the teams. This means that the beloved Blizzard Arena will not be the only place that holds the regular season matches. Each team will host at least two of their own “homestead” events in their team’s hometown. This will be amazing for fans all over the world to have a better opportunity to experience an Overwatch League match live. Even if fans cannot make it in person to an event, the homesteads will also be airing locally, making the matches broadcast on Twitch more convenient for local viewers.
Since the teams will be required to travel a lot next year, the OWL decided to split what was two divisions into two conferences with four divisions. One of the conferences is the Pacific conference that is made up of the Pacific East and the Pacific West. We also now have the Atlantic conference that is made up of the Atlantic North and the Atlantic South, and I will cover which teams fall in which conferences in the individual team breakdowns.
One of the changes that I am looking most forward to is getting rid of the individual stages throughout the year. I had a love/hate relationship with the stage format in the previous years. I thought it was awesome that teams got additional prize money if they finished at the top of the rankings at the end of the stage, but I couldn’t stand the way they worked the game patches into league play. In the inaugural season, they released the patches so slowly into league play that, by the time the season was over, the game that the pros were playing and the game that everyone else was playing was completely different. During the second season of OWL, the patches did not go live immediately, but they were much better with staying somewhat current. The season will be divided into simple halves, separated by a fun-filled All-Star event.
All in all, the changes coming to the Overwatch League are going to benefit the organization. I believe that the world-wide fanbase will not only sustain but grow with the new venues. I also think that the absence of stages throughout the year will give more fluidity to the season and create a more enjoyable experience for fans. This year, I hope to make it to some matches that are being hosted in Washington D.C. by the Washington Justice. Make sure to check the schedule to see when your favorite teams are playing!