Overwatch League Unveils Exciting New 2021 Format

by in Overwatch | Jan, 15th 2021

After a fairly long drought, we finally have news regarding the 2021 Overwatch League format! Jon Spector, VP of Overwatch Esports, has just confirmed many previous rumors, and even went a step further by providing us with a complete rundown of the things to come.

Competitive Overwatch fans finally have a date to look forward to! It took Blizzard a while to release this information, but it’s easy to understand why they’ve been somewhat hesitant and more cautious given the nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

So, let’s talk about the 2021 Overwatch League format!

2021 OWL Changes

  • Blizzard has taken feedback from fans, players, and team owners and has come up with a wholly unique competitive format for 2021 — one that will hopefully satisfy everyone involved.
  • The 2021 season is scheduled to begin in April.
  • Blizzard has decided to go with a tournament-based format (much akin to the one we had in 2020).
  • All competing teams have been divided into two regions: East (China & Korea) and West (North America and Europe).
  • Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, and Seoul Dynasty will all compete in the Eastern region.
  • Atlanta Reign, Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Paris Eternal, San Francisco Shock, Vancouver Titans, Toronto Defiant, and Washington Justice will all compete in the Western region.
  • Teams from both regions will play four regular season qualifier matches each month to determine whether or not they qualify for the four “tent-pole tournaments at the end of each cycle.”
  • The best teams from both regions will converge at the end of each tournament to crown one winner.
  • Health and safety conditions permitting, Blizzard plans on reintroducing live audiences for OWL events. It’s a long shot, given the current state of the pandemic, but at least there’s a chance.
  • Blizzard plans on introducing a minimum latency feature for their tournaments so that teams can compete on a level playing field. How well this’ll work out in reality still remains to be seen.
  • They’re also collaborating with YouTube on a number of different things, all of which pertain to the Overwatch League broadcast. This includes improving the quality of the stream, viewership rewards, along with a more bespoke integration that should, in the end, result in a much better viewing experience. 
  • We’re also getting a spoiler-free mode on the official OWL website that will allow fans across the globe to watch their favorite teams without fear of getting spoiled. Quite a nifty feature!

In any case, the outlook seems quite bright when it comes to the Overwatch League and its 2021 format. There are still numerous question marks regarding the whole thing, and we should definitely be prepared for a slew of changes should the pandemic take a turn for the worse, but at least Blizzard is taking the right steps towards ensuring a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.


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