Overwatch League Will Compete on Early Build of Overwatch 2
Coverage of the Overwatch League has been conflicting as of late, with reports stating that franchise owners of Overwatch League teams are feeling ‘disaffected’ with league leadership and a dwindling audience. A report from Forbes states that viewership for the Overwatch League’s 2021 season was up compared to last year. However, it seems Overwatch League officials no longer want to keep both their audience and stakeholders in the dark regarding the upcoming 2022 season.
A New Overwatch League on a New Engine
According to Jon Spector, Overwatch League’s vice-president, speculation regarding the 2022 season of the Overwatch League can finally be put to rest. “We can confirm that our plan is to begin next season in April 2022. We will share more details about 2022 roster construction timelines soon and more info generally on our 2022 season as we get closer to April.” This news regarding an April 2022 start date can be seen as a relief as many assumed the next season of the Overwatch League would be delayed until a stable build of Overwatch 2 was available for play. Will the Overwatch League be competing on Overwatch until Overwatch 2 is available?
According to a report by the Washington Post, the 2022 season of the Overwatch League will be played on an early build of Overwatch 2. “Spector’s announcement on Twitter did not address whether the fifth season would be played on ‘Overwatch 2.’ The league confirmed the plan in a separate email to The Washington Post.”
Details regarding the structure of the 2022 season of the Overwatch League are currently unknown. Based on statements coming from team owners to Dexerto, many hoped for the new season to be played on Overwatch 2 as a means of drumming up both audience and sponsor interest, especially after a year of reduced competition due to COVID-19 and sponsors backing out of the Overwatch League temporarily. Now that owners have a definite date for the next season and the promise of Overwatch 2, it’s up to them to figure out new five-player rosters. Thankfully, there are six months of offseason for teams to adjust.
It’s not only the change to rosters that teams have to contend with. It’s the possibility that Overwatch 2 may be a completely different game than Overwatch. Proposed changes to tanks will affect how that role plays in professional competition, and some tank players may find themselves unable to keep up. Teams may want to focus solely on rosters with a high degree of FPS mechanics rather than the unique role-trio system that Overwatch fosters over the game’s history. Last year, the Overwatch League had a talent retention issue, with some players switching to Riot’s Valorant, retiring, or being released. Major gameplay changes could lead to talent deciding to retire from Overwatch. With Blizzard actively alienating third-party organizers, creating a new pool of rookie competitors may be challenging. Regardless, it seems like it’s not over for Overwatch.