Competitive Overwatch returns on April 16, as Blizzard unveiled the new OWL season. Given the ongoing pandemic, the regular season continues to diverge from the original format.
Read on for more details.
2021 Overwatch League Calendar
The teams will be divided into two groups according to their geographic location.
The East region includes the eight teams that will play in China and South Korea:
Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, Seoul Dynasty
The West region brings together the twelve teams located in Europe and North America:
Atlanta Reign, Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Paris Eternal, San Francisco Shock, Vancouver Titans, Toronto Defiant, Washington Justice
In order to balance the planning of the different teams, each series of placement matches is spread over three weeks, with a bye week for each team. This means that each team plays twice per active week.
Broadcast times will be modified to better meet the needs of fans. All live matches between teams from the West region will start at 21:00 PST, while those from the East region will begin at 11:00 PST.
All matches will be broadcast live on the official YouTube channel, overwatchleague.com, and the official OWL app.
The 2021 season will be divided into four tournament cycles. The teams will play four placement matches each cycle in order to qualify and determine seedings.
The four events are:
- May Melee
- June Joust
- Summer Showdown
- Countdown Cup
Teams from both regions will participate in these tournaments. On the West side, the top six qualifying teams will compete in the knockout phase until only two remain. The same will apply to the East side, but with only four qualified teams.
The top two teams from each region will then be put together in a double elimination bracket to decide the tournament champion.
If health, safety and travel conditions allow it, the two qualified teams from the West region will travel to Hawaii for tournaments. This will allow them to play the Asian teams via a directly routed connection.
Should this not be possible, then the League will revert to separated regional online tournaments, with two different champions.
This season marks the start of a new ranking system, based on League Points obtained through victories in placement matches and in tournaments. Each team plays 16 placement matches during the season, and each win is worth 1 League Point.
Teams that qualify for tournaments and achieve victories can earn additional League Points, as follows:
- 1st place = 3 League Points
- 2nd place = 2 League Points
- 3rd place = 1 League Point
Any victory achieved during the three weeks of placement matches earns League Points, which determine qualification and seeding for the corresponding tournament.
These are important as, for example, a team that fails to qualify for the May Melee tournament may well qualify for June Joust should they perform well in the June cycle qualifiers.
All league points accumulated during the season will determine qualification and seeding for the Playoffs.
Regular season match wins — not including tournament wins — will serve as the primary tiebreaker when teams are tied on League Points.
In total, $4,250,000 is at stake during the season — an increase from previous years.
This will be divided between the monthly tournaments and the playoffs, as follows:
The hero pool system will be in effect in two of the four competitive cycles: June Joust and Countdown Cup. There will be no Hero Pools for the May Melee and Summer Showdown cycles, nor for the Playoffs.
Like last year, the four heroes excluded from the game in affected cycles — two DPS, one tank, and one support — will be randomly selected from a list based on in-game data from OWL matches in the previous competitive cycle.
Only regularly played heroes (10% minimum playtime) can be excluded from the Hero Pool rotation. No hero can be removed more than once during the season.
Each map pool will include 14 maps spread across four game modes: five control, three hybrid, three Escort, and three assault. The maps selected and the order of the game modes will change for each competitive cycle, and for the Playoffs.
Map pool for the May Melee cycle:
- Control: Lijiang Tower, Busan, Oasis, Nepal, Ilios
- Hybrid: King's Row, Blizzard World, Eichenwalde
- Escort: Dorado, Watchpoint Gibraltar, Havana
- Assault: Hanamura, Volskaya, Temple of Anubis
During the four tournaments, the first map choice will go to the highest seeded team. Then, the losing team of each subsequent map will choose the next, within the predetermined game mode order.
Map pools for subsequent tournaments and for the Playoffs will be announced during the season.
The 2021 Overwatch League season officially kicks off on Friday , April 16 , with two high-stakes games to start with — Houston Outlaws vs. Dallas Fuel and San Francisco Shock vs. Los Angeles Gladiators.
Make sure to tune in!
All Overwatch League teams have now announced their roster for the next season. London Spitfire has just made three late player recruitments, but not enough to complete its team.