Overwatch

Overwatch League shares update on Hero Pools, 2021 tournaments and more

by Michael Gwilliam

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Overwatch League Vice President Jon Spector has outlined plans for the remainder of the 2020 season, playoffs, as well as what the future could hold going into the league’s fourth year.

In a Twitlonger message, Spector explained how the league has been thrilled with the new tournaments they’ve implemented having completed the May Melee and Summer Showdown.

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According to Spector, the APAC regional tournament finals were the most-watched matches of all time in Asia. As such, it’s looking like tournaments will continue going into the fourth season in 2021.

“We are still working on 2021 format concepts,” Spector revealed, explaining how global health issues make planning their challenging. “It’s clear that monthly tournament cycles are compelling, and we want to do something similar next year too. Ultimately, we want to find a way to blend the excitement of homestands around the world with the monthly tournament structure we’ve developed for online matches.”

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So far, there’s no plan in place yet, but he promised big news to come in the off season. However, what does seem unlikely is that the league will implement a weekly tournament structure like the Call of Duty League.

“I believe that a lot of what makes these tournaments special is that they are not happening every weekend and we have a few weeks leading up to each tournament to build the hype,” Spector said. He further added that weekly tournaments could be very taxing on both players and coaches.

Amusingly, prior to season three, the league rejected former commentator Christopher ‘MonteCristo’ Mykles tournament format in favor of a season structure similar to that of traditional sports.

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Overwatch League Shock DPS star Striker in Dallas
Carlton Beener for Blizzard Entertainment
The Overwatch League only had a few homestands in 2020.

Overwatch League post-season plans

For the upcoming 2020 playoffs, the league is looking on having a way for all twenty teams to partake in some capacity.

“While we’ve done our best to balance out things like strength of schedule for teams over the course of the full 2020 calendar, trying to update the playoffs format in a way that feels fair to all teams and is operationally viable has been very challenging,” he revealed.

According to the VP, the planned format will “give all 20 teams a path to make it into the playoffs,” but noted that teams higher in the standings will still have an edge. The full information for the playoffs will be revealed very soon.

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Houston Outlaws fans at an Overwatch League homestand event
Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment
Every team can have a chance to make the 2020 OWL playoffs.

The future of Hero Pools

Finally, he touched on Hero Pools and what’s next for them. Currently, Hero Pools are removed from ranked play and operate on a two-week cycle in OWL with them removed the week of and before tournaments.

Spector believes this system is the best as they plan ahead for 2021.

While he’s happy with the current format, the league is “open to revisiting” the approach and will be reviewing all the data they’ve collected.

Carpe walks out at a Fusion Overwatch League event
Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment
Is this the year Carpe gets an Overwatch League championship?

It will be interesting to see what the league does and if they listen to teams’ feedback. Notably, in an interview with Dexerto, Paris Eternal head coach Hee-won ‘RUSH’ Yun said he would prefer Hero Pools to be on a monthly rotation to match up with tournaments.

Of course, the elephant in the room could be Overwatch 2 and how the sequel’s release impacts the entire 2021 season with new heroes, maps, modes and of course, balance changes.

Until then, we’ll have to wait and see, though it’s clear that the 2021 format could prove to be quite different than what was planned with 2020.