Potential Changes Coming to Overwatch League 2021
If recent rumors are correct, 2021 is bound to bring a slew of interesting changes to the Overwatch League, and, frankly, that would be for the best. There’s no need to write anything about the way things unfolded for Blizzard throughout 2020 — their struggles are both well-known and well-documented. In short, Blizzard will have to adjust and pivot if they intend on keeping the Overwatch League even remotely relevant. Now sure, this most recent finals reportedly broke numerous records (and what a final it was), but it still feels like the game (and its competitive aspect) is losing steam as time goes on.
2020, in particular, has been exceptionally hard on Blizzard and their prized IP — OWL’s viewership numbers on YouTube were far from impressive (regular-season ones, at least), many top-tier players left the scene entirely in favor of Valorant, and gamers’ interest in the game plummeted. If you were to check with the OW community on what the biggest prevailing issues are, you’d get a long list of facts that would cover a wide range of topics and problems: a shoddy format, the fact that players are experiencing constant burnout, a ton of traveling, no existing T2 scene, a lack of professionalism and competitiveness from certain permanent partners, a relatively stale meta, a passive, hesitant dialogue between Blizzard and the community, and so on.
Changes on the Horizon
Fortunately, Blizzard seems to have gotten the memo, at least to a certain extent. According to an online report, Blizzard is currently engaged in a very active discussion with investors and franchise owners. The point of it, simply put, is to devise a plan for 2021. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the air, and it’s become quite obvious that having any kind of localized model is out of the question.
So what kind of changes are we talking about?
- The 2021 Overwatch League season would begin in April and end in September. Playoffs will reportedly happen throughout August.
- Regions would remain separated much like they were throughout 2020 because of safety precautions.
- There would be a mid-season tournament during which both regions would collide.
- The season playoffs would also pit the best teams from both regions against each other for a shot at glory (and a sizable sack of cash).
- There would be three tournaments in each region throughout the season.
- Blizzard is supposedly trying to incorporate three Asian Contenders teams into the mix. Doing so would even out the number of teams in both regions.
- North American matches will be played out on LAN, whereas those in Asia might have live audiences, seeing how that part of the world is doing a lot better COVID-wise. Still, this heavily depends on how things develop going forward.
All of these things are still being worked on, and the 2021 Overwatch League season might look a lot different by the time it comes around. Still, the fact that Blizzard is taking a proactive approach with everyone’s safety in mind is definitely a positive thing worthy of commendation. As always, we’ll bring you any updates as they come along!