Blizzard is making changes to the 2021 OWL Roster Rules

Not for the first time, Activision-Blizzard, the company behind popular shooter Overwatch is making changes to the game’s next competitive season. The Overwatch League went through tough times this season. First the format and homestand system suffered and the entire competitive system shifted. Now finally coming into next season the OWL Roster Rules are taking a hit.

With the 2020 Playoffs approaching rapidly, the changes for the postseason and the following 2021 season are getting quite relevant – and the rules somewhat confusing, both for fans and potential players.

Already, the OWL has started allowing the signing of free agents – to replace players that chose to retire, not to travel or even got sick and thus unable to participate in the current season. For the next season, it’ll still be possible to sign free agents – and ones signed in the current season are automatically released from their contracts at the end of the season as these replacements are only allowed to last for the rest of this season.

In order to be eligible as a free agent to be signed, players need to either hold citizenship in an Asian country or already have an existing visa to travel to countries within Asia. This applies to players wanting to participate in the playoffs as well.

Key Dates 2020

Since the playoffs are almost here, teams are already scouting for talent – and as of September 14th, they’ll be allowed to actually sign these free agents, as well as prolong existing contracts with rostered players.

As of the 12th of October, teams will be allowed to submit for player trades if they can come to an agreement – and between October 23rd and November 20th, all players not under contract already (be it extended or new) automatically become free agents. How many players this will affect in the Overwatch 2021 season remains to be seen.

On November 23rd, the last and arguably most important deadline happens – teams need to have a minimum of seven players signed on for the minimum duration of the 2021 season. Any teams that don’t fulfil this requirement will face potential penalties – though in all likelihood the teams won’t struggle too much to find players.

Contract Changes

In addition to the above, Overwatch is also changing some of the other rules around contracts. Teams may have between 7 and 12 players at all times, and can sign one of two types of contracts – season-long ones that can span between one and three seasons and can be terminated by the team with a (paid) moments notice + termination fee.

The other type of contract is fixed to 30 days – as long as the 7 minimum player requirement is met, teams can also sign other players into month-long contracts – at the end of them, the players once again become free agents and are free to negotiate with other teams if they want to. These contracts cannot be extended unilaterally though.

We witnessed many of the Best Overwatch players announce their retirement or switch titles to games like Valorant this season. The new roster rules are likely here to help teams cope better with the increasing plight in the OWL competitive scene.

Two-way Players

To allow for better player support options in the pro system of the OWL, Blizzard is now also making it easier for players to participate in OWL and Contenders 2021. There is no longer a limit on how many players can have this status, and even players on teams without academy affiliations can take part, significantly lowering the hurdles that aspiring pros need to jump to make their journey to the top.

OWL teams must still pay the 2-way players’ salaries while they are competing in Contenders, but players can agree to a tiered salary structure – as long as it remains above the minimum salary at all times. The only number restriction is that only up to four two-way players are allowed on one Contenders team at a time. The reverse is not true – a Contenders team can even loan their players to different OWL teams if they want!

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