Overwatch League announces 2021 season format: tournaments, groups, more

Overwatch League 2021Overwatch League

The Overwatch League has revealed new details for the upcoming 2021 season including bigger tournaments, East and West teams, and how they’re tackling the issue of latency.

In 2020, the league was forced to radically switch up its format right as the long-awaited home stand model began to take shape. With teams forced to play online for the majority of the season, the same type of structure will be in place for 2021, with some improvements.

For one, while tournaments were a relatively late addition to the season the previous year, 2021 will be built upon these four events featuring teams made up in the East and West regions.

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The eight Eastern teams competing in South Korea and China are the Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, and Seoul Dynasty.

NYXL star JJonak celebrates a win in front of the crowd at the New York Overwatch League homestand eventStewart Volland For Blizzard Entertainment
The league will be staying online for the 2021 season.

Meanwhile, the twelve in the West consist of the Atlanta Reign, Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Paris Eternal, San Francisco Shock, Vancouver Titans, Toronto Defiant, and Washington Justice.

How OWL is handling interregional tournaments

In addition to the standard regular-season matchups, where teams earn points to qualify for the postseason, only the top teams will be able to qualify for the four tournaments throughout the year.

The big improvement here compared to last year is that the league will be making use of the new minimum latency tool that will allow for teams in both regions to compete against one another.

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When tournaments take place, the top Western teams will fly to Hawaii, Senior Manager of Product Strategy and Operations Sean Miller explained to Dexerto

“Because of [Hawaii’s] location geographically, it enables the top teams in the Western region to travel there and we can set the minimum latency to make the matches on an even playing field,” he said.

The Asian teams will be connecting to a server based in Tokyo and with the connection from Japan to Honolulu, it should make for quality interregional play.

“We worked really closely with all the teams to develop these plans and as we’ve worked through this Hawaii option with them, it’s received unanimous feedback from all the teams, so they’re really excited about it,” Miller added. “Just the prospect of being able to have this global competition happen on a regular basis in 2021 is just awesome.”

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Carpe walks out at a Fusion Overwatch League eventBen Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment
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Improved broadcast and YouTube features

In addition to the revamped format, big things are coming from the broadcast side as well with new video series, an improved virtual set and more things still to be announced.

There are also some major improvements coming as the league enters its second year on YouTube since moving from Twitch that should enhance the experience.

At this moment it’s still unclear what game teams will be competing in as Overwatch 2 still looms with new details and perhaps a potential release scheduled for BlizzCon in February.

When asked which game the upcoming season will be played on, Miller responded that he couldn’t comment on that, so fans will still have to wait for news on the Overwatch 2 front and how it will impact OWL as the season begins in April.

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