It appears that the Overwatch League won’t be bringing in any new expansion teams for its third season.
The league recently announced that it would be going fully local for the 2020 season, moving out of the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles as all matches will be taking place in local ‘homestand’ events hosted by the teams.
Included in the announcement, however, were details of the format, which revealed that teams will once again play a total of 28 matches – two against each opponent within their conference, and one against each opponent from the opposite conference.
The inclusion of these details, as well as how the teams will be divided into Atlantic and Pacific Conferences, each of which will have two divisions, seems to confirm that no additional teams will be joining the league for the 2020 season.
Each team will host at least two homestand events during the season, which means that every city currently represented in the OWL will see some competition in 2020, but any fans hoping for a new city to join the league will have to wait at least another year.
The news will undoubtedly come as something of a disappointment for some fans, particularly for those regions with few or even no representatives currently in the league. Most notably, South Korea and Europe have one and two teams respectively, while there are no teams based in Australia or the Pacific, both of which have Contenders leagues.
The now-former Commissioner of the Overwatch League, Nate Nanzer, had stated in interviews that the league eventually planned to reach 28 teams globally, and in an interview with The Sun in September 2018 said that “If we're looking to add additional teams going into season 3 Europe is going to be a huge focus for us as a place to do that.”
It seems that expansion will have to wait another year, though, with ESPN’s Jacob Wolf also confirming that, according to his conversations with Nanzer and Activision Blizzard CEO Pete Vlastelica, there will be no expansion for 2020, a decision that was apparently made “pretty early” in the 2019 season.
As I understand, that decision was made pretty early into the season, so I’d t it’s unlikely the streaming numbers had much of an impact.— Jacob Wolf (@JacobWolf) July 16, 2019
Fortunately, anyone who wishes to travel to their nearest homestand during the 2020 season should have plenty of time to plan for the trip, as the Overwatch League is expected to release a full schedule in August 2019, with tickets going on sale shortly after.