Overwatch

Overwatch League releases online schedule after Coronavirus cancellation

by Bill Cooney
Blizzard Entertainment

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The Overwatch League has released their revamped online schedule and an update on professional Hero Pools for matches that will be getting back underway starting March 21.

All OWL homestand events in March and April were canceled by the League on March 11, but they assured fans that the matches themselves would still take place, just entirely online.

Because a large number of OWL teams hadn't even played yet, the league is also moved the All-Star Weekend to after the 2020 season and canceled the Midseason Tournament to fit more matches in.

Now, the League has officially released its revamped schedule for when play resumes online on March 21.

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Four teams will play to kick things back off: the San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, along with the two L.A. teams, the Gladiators and Valiant.

The matches will be streamed live on YouTube Gaming starting at 11 AM PST March 21, but it will be the first time Overwatch League games have been played online, with no audience or fans in attendance.

Overwatch League's Vice President Jon Spector filled fans in on what the plan was going forward with the new schedule, and how it would impact teams.

"What we're working towards is having three groups of teams basically, based on geography," Spector explained. "That means the Atlantic Conference teams, all ten of them, will be based out of the East Coast of the U.S. so we can connect all of them online to compete with each other as they were scheduled to do."

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The Pacific conference will be split between the six teams located on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada, and the four teams located across the Pacific in China. South Korea apparently will play with the West Coast teams, based on the schedule released on March 15.

"The matches will all be played online within those three groups," The VP reiterated. "All teams are able to compete from their local hubs and cities and don't need to travel.

With the new schedule, there's also a change coming to how Hero Pools operate in the League as well. Pools will now be rated based on pick rates within the OWL for all upcoming matches.

The bans will be focused on heroes who receive higher than a 70% pick rate in matches, with lesser-played heroes not being targeted in an attempt to avoid bans that might not make that big of an impact.

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Which Homestands were canceled?

This decision by the league effectively canceled out weeks six through twelve of the regular season events up to the All-Star break headed into May.

The full list of homestands that were affected in March and April is as follows:

  • Week 6: Florida
  • Week 7: Atlanta
  • Week 8: London & San Francisco
  • Week 9: Washington & Dallas
  • Week 10: Paris
  • Week 11: Toronto & Los Angeles
  • Week 12: Boston and Dallas

That list doesn't even include all of the Chinese Overwatch League homestands, which were first postponed to be played in Korea before being called off altogether due to the spread of coronavirus and concern in that country.

Teams have offered refunds for fans who had already purchased tickets to the events, who will also be happy to hear that the matches themselves will still be taking place.

Overwatch League stage.
Blizzard
The Overwatch League's first season trying the home and away format has gotten off to a rocky start thanks to coronavirus.

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OWL's first season featuring matches in team's home cities hasn't gotten off to a stellar start with a worldwide health scare going on at the same time, but they're far from the only esport affected.

Unfortunately, esports fans might have to get used to seeing marquee events canceled in the coming months with local authorities all over the world warning against large public gatherings, but at least we'll still have plenty of Overwatch League to watch.