The Overwatch League suffered the disastrous effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in what was set out to be a historic year for Blizzard's competitive scene title - being on the road across America, Europe, and Asia for the first time.
They announced the cancellation of all Homestands for March and April following the Week 5 event hosted by the Washington Justice this past 7th and 8th.
Now, we got official confirmation that next weekend matches will be going ahead moving to a fully online format, with Blizzard looking to get the schedule back up to speed as much as possible, with an incredible 16 matches set to be played in two days.
2 days. 16 games. Welcome back everybody 💪#OWL2020 returns in epic fashion this weekend 🙌— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) March 23, 2020
📺 https://t.co/tbTGBrUfiE pic.twitter.com/HrG8t3a8qB
The crazy marathon of Overwatch begins early on Saturday, March 28th at 8 am GMT with Guangzhou Charge taking on the Shanghai Dragons, and it will end Monday, March 30th at 4 am GMT with the Seoul Dynasty playing against the Los Angeles Gladiators.
The League was due to return on the 21st of March, but the schedule - which would've seen the Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, Dynasty, and San Francisco Shock take to the virtual stage - had to be put on hold once again thanks to the increasing measures from California's government, issuing a strict stay-at-home policy.
With all these changes, everything surrounding the original schedule and format for the 2020 OWL season has shifted drastically, here, I'll round up everything else you need to know regarding the League!
Overwatch League 2020 Schedule
With the cancellation of Homestands, Blizzard has confirmed dates for the rest of March and April in regards to their new online schedule.
- Week 8: 28-29 March
- Week 9: 3-5 April
- Week 10: 10-12 April
- Week 11: 17-19 April
- Week 12: 24-26 April
While no new information around what's going to happen come May when the Homestands make their return according to the official OWL website, taking into consideration the increasing danger of the Coronavirus around the world, it's looking highly unlikely we'll see any at all for the remainder of the season.
The original conferences will remain the same - with both Pacific and Atlantic squads mostly playing games against same conference teams - however, due to the extraordinary circumstances while trying to create an online schedule with teams spread around the world, OWL has decided to split the organizations into three specific groups to play with as low latency as possible.
- North America East: Boston Uprising, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Paris Eternal, Toronto Defiant, Atlanta Reign, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, Philadelphia Fusion, and Washington Justice.
- North America West: Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock, Dallas Fuel, Vancouver Titans, and Seoul Dynasty.
- Asia: Shanghai Dragons, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, and Chengdu Hunters.
The NA East group is comprised of the entire Atlantic conference, meanwhile NA West and Asia are both part of the Pacific side of things. As a quick refresher, here’s the original division breakdown.
- Atlantic South Division: Atlanta Reign, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, Philadelphia Fusion, Washington Justice.
- Atlantic North Division: Boston Uprising, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Paris Eternal, Toronto Defiant.
- Pacific East Division: Shanghai Dragons, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, and Chengdu Hunters, Seoul Dynasty.
- Pacific West Division: Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, Dallas Fuel, San Francisco Shock, Vancouver Titans.
Match Structure, Map Pools, and Patches
On a shift from previous seasons, OWL 2020 is played in a first-to-three format rather than obligatory four map sets per match.
Every match will start with a Control map and will move to an Assault, Escort, and Hybrid type. If there's a need to play more than four maps, Control will be the only map type to be selected until there's a winner.
The map pool for the next weeks of competition is as follows.
While Blizzard remains adamant about having patches from the live servers in Overwatch League as soon as possible, there will be a downtime scheduled between patches hitting the game and making their way into OWL, this is in order to ensure no game-breaking bugs ruin matches and to give teams time to prepare.
Midseason tournament and All-Star Weekend
Scheduled as part of the regular season break right after Week 13 that would've pitted the top sides from each conference and the next best two teams in the overall table, the midseason tournament was completely cancelled, as there aren't enough matches played by all teams to decide who would compete in it.
On the other hand, the All-Star Weekend -which includes fan-favourite events like the Widowmaker 1v1 tournament and the Talent Takedown- has been postponed until the end of the season, with no official date set for it.
Pending League announcement, the planned format for the postseason is still a go with a double-elimination bracket tournament that will include.
- The top teams from each conference taking the first seeds.
- The next four teams in the overall standings taking 3rd-6th seeds.
- The two teams that make it from the play-in tournament will be granted the 7th and 8th seeds.
Taking only the overall standings into account, teams that finish 7th-12th will get a chance to make the season playoffs with a single-elimination tournament.
- Total prize pool - $250K
- First place - $1.5M
- Second place - $800K
- Third place - $500K
- Fourth place - $300K
- Fifth place - $200K
- Sixth place - $200K
- Seventh place - $100K
- Eighth place - $100K
While it's now cancelled, the original prize pool for the midseason tournament was as follows
- First place - $500K
- Second place - $250K
- Third place - $150K
- Fourth place - $150K
New to this season are hero pools and bans, which will ensure that the meta doesn't go stale, forcing teams to adapt with only one week in advance for every new pool.
Each week, two damage dealers, one tank, and one support will be unavailable. The banned heroes for Week 8 are.
- DPS: Soldier: 76 and Sombra
- Tank: Winston
- Support: Lucio
Starting from the next hero pool selection and moving forward, hero usage will be taken into consideration heavily when it comes to selecting the banned characters - it means, the more a hero is played, the more tickets will be available in the container used at the end of each broadcast on Sunday.
The breakdown is very easy.
- 10-25% (1 ticket)
- 25-50% (2 tickets)
- 50-75% (3 tickets)
- 75-100% (4 tickets)
Overwatch League 2020 Online: How-To Watch
Check out the official Overwatch League YouTube channel for the latest on OWL, including the live streams of all the matches.