Overwatch League Releases Details on 2020 Grand Finals and Playoffs
Activision Blizzard has today released details on the upcoming Overwatch League 2020 Grand Finals and playoffs, about six weeks before the competition is scheduled to begin on Sept. 3.
Teams will be seeded in each region based on their records over the regular season with a series of tiebreakers applied if necessary. This does mean that all 20 teams are entering the playoffs, as teams were not necessarily on an equal footing throughout the year due to the coronavirus. Though some critics have questioned whether or not this is wise due to competitive integrity and almost invalidating the results of the regular season, it’s clear that the Overwatch League is doing their best to offer advantages in the playoffs to teams that did well throughout the season.
“While all teams have an opportunity to qualify for the playoffs, higher seeds in each region enjoy significant advantages including byes and choice of opponent for the first rounds of the bracket and selection of the first map throughout,” Activision Blizzard said in their press release.
The 2020 playoffs for the Overwatch League will open with single-elimination play in matches among the lowest-seeded teams to earn their spot in a double elimination bracket. After this, the final four teams will compete in a double-elimination bracket, with two teams advancing to the Grand Finals to compete for the League Championship. All teams will be in Asia for the championship matches, and thus the League will need a few weeks to ensure that teams self-quarantine before the event kicks off.
“We’ve spent a lot of time talking with all teams and exploring different options for a revamped playoff structure this season. 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,” OWL Commissioner Jon Spector said in a Twitlonger before the release of the news. “We believe this approach is the best way to acknowledge the specific challenges of the 2020 regular season while appropriately rewarding the teams that performed best throughout the year.”
How Will the Regions Be Divided for OWL 2020 Playoffs?
|Atlanta Reign||Chengdu Hunters|
|Boston Uprising||Guangzhou Charge|
|Dallas Fuel||Hangzhou Spark|
|Florida Mayhem||London Spitfire|
|Houston Outlaws||New York Excelsior|
|Los Angeles Gladiators||Shanghai Dragons|
|Los Angeles Valiant||Seoul Dynasty|
|San Francisco Shock|
The teams will be fighting through the playoffs for the right to call themselves Overwatch League champions, as well as the following prizing breakdowns. In this case, each and every team will get something from participating in at least the double elimination playoff bracket:
|Regional Third Place Teams (2)||$250,000|
|Teams Reaching Double-elimination Rounds (6)||$75,000|
Only teams that fail to reach the double elimination stage will receive nothing in prizing. This means that teams in Asia are almost guaranteed to be in the money, while North American teams might lose out a little more.
Why the Disparity in Numbers Between NA and Asia?
North American teams and Asian teams are currently quarantining in their home countries due to the coronavirus to reduce risk of travel, get rid of the possibility of dealing with issues in visas and more.
Many players in the Overwatch League, especially those from Korea, did not feel safe staying in the U.S. while the pandemic has shown no signs of slowing down.
This did lead to a weird situation though for the New York Excelsior. Despite obviously being a North American based team, the entirety of their roster and staff is actually from South Korea. This led to them also heading back across the Pacific and competing a majority of the time against their Asian brethren. Thus, they have been sorted into the Pacific region and created an odd number of teams in each division for the tournament.
This has led to a situation where it’s far easier to be in the Asian division, as there are far less teams to have to prepare for than in the North American division of the Overwatch League, or at least so it seems.
How Will the Finals Be Viewed?
It’s unlikely that the Grand Finals will have any kind of in person viewership, and even if they do, they are likely to only be hosted in a studio with an extremely limited in person crowd. While some restrictions due to the coronavirus have indeed been lifted in South Korea and China, fears of a second wave and international travelers from the U.S. might limit Activision Blizzard’s ability to host anything resembling the first or second season’s Grand Finals.
Of course, all of the 2020 Overwatch League playoffs will be available for fans to view on YouTube Gaming, with the possibility of all players being on location and live rather than the online games we’ve seen in the past few months. It would also mean a return to action for all the casting talent, who have been working from home alongside many of the players.
With the Overwatch League season slowly ramping up in viewership as the season has gone on and the format began to favor tournaments and less hero pool play, Blizzard will surely be using this event as a highlight to what’s been a turbulent 2020 for the League.