The Overwatch League 2020 season marks the third year of competition for Blizzard’s youngest esports title. Since 2018, the OWL has been home to the highest level of Overwatch action since the release of the game. The tournament is unique in its approach to pro play in comparison to other prominent esport titles.
Aimed at following traditional North American sports with its franchised teams that cannot be relegated and a Pacific/Atlantic division system, Overwatch aims to merge traditional and esports competitive structure into one. The format has evolved however, with the first two seasons being divided into four Stages each and games being played at the Blizzard Arena, while the 2020 season will feature an entirely different system. T
his year will see 20 teams competing for the ultimate prize of a $5 million dollars while competing in Home/Away game settings similar to other North American sports.
Overwatch League 2020: Format
The new season will feature the Homestead system for the 1st time since the establishment of the Overwatch League. Each week, 2 of the 20 teams will host a Homestead event at their home arena with visiting teams that will compete for that weeks’ matches. Every team in the Overwatch League is tasked with hosting at least two Homestead weekend on their home court for the duration of the season. Additionally, teams are encouraged to go the extra mile and organize amateur events and viewing parties during their homestead weekend.
The Overwatch League regular season will span between February 8th – August 9th, 2020.
Each team will play 28 regular-season matches, two matches against their conference opponents and one match against opponents from the other conferences. All of the matches will be played over a period of 26 weeks with a midseason break between weeks 12 and 13. During this break a mini-Playoffs or Midseason Finals will be held. The Midseason event will feature a battle between the top two teams from each Conference and two Wildcard teams chosen based on regular season performance. All-Star will also be back this season with the best voted players duking it out in questionable match scenarios all for the enjoyment of the fans.
Once the Regular season ends the Postseason will commence with the two top teams per conference as the top seeds and four teams across both conferences as the three to six seeds. The final two spots to round out the Overwatch Postseason roster will be selected through a the play-in tournament.
Check out highlights of the Watchpoint team discussing the future of the Overwatch League. https://t.co/Yh1YipV0Xq
— Esports.net (@EsportsDotNet) January 27, 2020
Starting in 2020, all matches will be played in a First-to-Three format with the first map always being a Control Map. The decision for the new system was made in consultation with all players and teams in the league. Opening with Control helps to avoid a map differential that would benefit a single team over any other. However, the following 2 maps in the match will still be randomized.
In order to keep the map variety fresh,the map pool will be changed four times during the 2020 season. All control maps will be in play throughout the entire season while each new map pool will feature three new maps from the other games modes. Once Postseason comes along a wholly new map pool will be created just for the Postseason matches.
The entire Overwatch League 2020 season will be played on the original Overwatch game. There is no information if Overwatch 2 will be showcased or played for show matches at this stage. Check out the following link for a breakdown of the Overwatch League 2020 schedule.
Overwatch League: Developing rivalries
The Overwatch League has seen its fair share of Rivalries develop over the past two seasons. Coming into 2020 a whole set of geographical rivalries will also be inflamed as teams enter the Home/Away system. Since the OWL debut, Blizzard has attempted to grab every kind of gamer from all backgrounds and that philosophy has extended into their professional scene as well. Whether you’re a fan of the black and gold mystique of Seoul Dynasty, or a fanatic of the unlikely group of phenoms in Boston Uprising, the storylines each and every week are as compelling as they are competitive.
As the stages have progressed in the past, rivalries have flaired up between various teams within the league. 2019 was marked by an evolving rivalry between the San Francisco Shock and Vancouver Titans squads as both teams clashed heavily in Stage playoffs and the Grand Final. Another point of contention was created between the Houston Oulaws and the London Spitfire which originated after the Houston squad bettered Spitfire on every occasion despite London having a stronger team in both players and results.
The new Home/Away system will spark some traditional geographical rivalries famous in traditional sports. We can fully expect fans of both the Vancouver and Toronto squads to heavily invest in their rivalry. Similarly, Los Angeles has two squads battling for city dominance no different then the one in the NBA and we can be sure tensions will be high whenever the Gladiators and Valiant play. Finally, we have four Chinese teams who are hell bent on proving they are the dominant team hailing from China. The Dragons, Spark, Hunters and Charge all have their eyes set on the China Numba Wan crown.
The only team in the OWL that everyone wants to be a rival with is the New York Excelsior. While other teams have only found wins as a temporary matter, NYXL has been atop the Overwatch League standings or a top performing team since the inception of the league. With such continuity in performance they are always the team other teams look up to and try to prove themselves against. Additionally, the Excelsior squad has a strong fanbase and following making it the ideal target for fandom banter and social media meme-ing.
We can always expect new rivalries to develop during the 2020 season as each division will host their own battle for dominance.
In the meantime have a look at our Overwatch League Power Rankings and find out who are the favorites for the season 2020.
Overwatch League 2020 Best Odds
Prize pool & Broadcasting Rights
The Overwatch League 2020 season will have the same prize pool as the previous two seasons at US$5,000,000. The money division is changed however, due to the stage system being replaced by the Homestead system.
The Grand Champion team will earn $1.5 million while the runner-up earns $800,000. Third place will earn $500,000 and fourth $300,000. Teams ranked fifth and sixth place will earn $200,000, and seventh and eighth place will earn $100,000.
For the Midseason Tournament winner $500,000 are reserved while the runners-up will win $250,000. The All-Star event will have a prize pool for the first time, with a total pool of $250,000.
With the Twitch exclusive deal ending in 2020, The Overwatch League will move all broadcasting rights for the 2020 season to Youtube. Earlier in 2020, Activision Blizzard finalized a multiyear deal with Google to have all of Blizzard’s esports events exclusively shown through Google’s cloud computing platforms.
The Youtube channel Overwatch League will be the new home for all Overwatch related streams.We are still not certain if the Overwatch League Twitch channel will continue broadcasting content.
The new set of changes for the upcoming season have already had an impact on the League and the direction Overwatch is taking. Several of the teams voiced their concern that the new system might be too taxing on players as the extensive travel schedule will curb practice times and the overall quality of play.
Additionally, several OWL ambassadors and shoutcasters including Semmler, Malik Forté, MonteCristo, Chris Puckett and DoA have left the OWL dissatisfied citing various reasons from salary issues to dislike towards where the OWL is heading.
With the OWL entering a new decade, problems regarding the Overwatch League are still being ironed out by Blizzard and we are still not certain about the stability or financial viability of the League. However, Overwatch betting is still going to remain a strong market for bookmakers through the entire 2020 season.
For further information about the Overwatch League and all the latest news, take a look at our dedicated Overwatch news section.