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

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

Published: 10/Jul/2020 20:47

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.

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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.

Overwatch

Jeff Kaplan reveals his ideal competitive Overwatch meta

Published: 8/Oct/2020 3:13

by Theo Salaun

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Blizzard Entertainment’s Vice President and Overwatch’s beloved Game Director Jeff Kaplan has revealed what he thinks is the ideal competitive meta for the expansive title.

Overwatch exists in many forms, from its highest ranks to its lowest, but the game’s competitive meta at the professional level has also varied greatly since the original release back in May 2016. 

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In the olden days, teams prioritized dive compositions led by Winston’s jumps and Tracer’s blinks. Then, in 2019, fans around the world either groaned or cheered as the divisive GOATS meta took center-stage, featuring a hefty squad built entirely with tanks and supports. 

Now, Kaplan is explaining his perspective on the game’s ideal state, following criticisms he levied back in July against the game’s double-shield reliance. Examining the game’s departure from a static, Orisa and Sigma-dependent environment, he dissects his compository ideology. 

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Brigitte stuns Junkrat on Volskaya
Blizzard Entertainment
Barriers have held an uncomfortably powerful role in Overwatch for a long time.

As discussed in an interview with the Loadout, Kaplan is both aware of the professional scene’s interests and the casual base’s tendencies. Coupling those factors, he believes the game is at its best when there is some blend of high skill caps and diverse team compositions.

“The most ideal, healthiest state of the game is when the meta is somewhat fluid, when the meta is more map dependent or team match up dependent than it is static. We’ve all seen those moments when the meta has been completely static and all six players will just play the same six heroes every time. I think that’s fun from a mastery standpoint, but I think it’s a lot more exciting for viewers when creativity and curiosity come into play,” he said.

When Kaplan refers to a “static” meta, the simplest example is 2019’s GOATS, where three healers (Brigitte, Lucio, and Moira) were coupled with three tanks (D.Va, Reinhardt, and Zarya) and would barrel into opponents.

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It took tremendous teamwork to be pulled off successfully against other professional teams, but many fans considered it more tedious than entertaining after months of gameplay.

In its current state, Overwatch is not completely balanced, but there is a degree of variety to it. That diversity seen in the Overwatch League spans downward into the casual ranks. Kaplan indicates that this is in line with his department’s hopes.

“I think most of our players would say in the ideal meta, all our heroes would be viable in some way competitively. I think as a competitive goal from a game designing and game balancing perspective that is extremely challenging, but it’s obviously what we strive to achieve.”

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While he assures that Overwatch would be completely balanced in an ideal world, in the meantime, his team would at least like to push toward a game that varies to some extent based on coaching, player preference, and map.

It remains to be seen if current and upcoming patches can accomplish that, but Kaplan’s emphasis on “fluidity” is a welcome driving force.

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