Olivia R. July 16, 2019
The Overwatch League will finally achieve their global goal in 2020. At least, that's the plan.
Since the OWL was created in 2018, former commissioner Nate Nanzer's vision had always been to move the league's 20 teams to their home city. He felt it was an opportunity for esports teams to build stronger local fan bases in the cities they represent.
The OWL announced earlier today that each team will host a minimum of two homestand weekends, similar to the recent Atlanta Homestand event. The maximum amount of tournaments hosted in local arenas is five events per team. Each of these tournaments will take place on Saturday and Sunday, with the teams traveling to the designated city early in the week.
There is an upcoming Homestand event in Los Angeles in August this year, but these events were not regular occurences throughout Season 2.
“It’s a similar format to what we’ve done in Dallas and Atlanta and building on those successes,” OWL senior director of partnerships Jon Spector said in an interview with Dot Esports. “In 2019, we had a couple of these homestand weekends as tests. It was an opportunity to sort of learn and have players and staff and our team have a crack at what an event in Atlanta looks like, what an event in Dallas looks like.”
The OWL teams will also be split into four global divisions, adding two more to the currently existing division structure. Currently there are 10 teams in the Atlantic and 10 teams in the Pacific division, a model that worked when most matches were played in the Blizzard Arena.
But going forward, teams will be regulated to divisions made up of five. This helps with traveling, since each team is now based in their own city across the globe.
The Atlantic Division will be split into two smaller divisions in 2020. The Southern Atlantic Division will include the Atlanta Reign, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, Washington Justice, and Philadelphia Fusion. Boston Uprising, New York Excelsior, Toronto Defiant, London Spitfire, and Paris Eternal will be under the Northern Atlantic Division.
To avoid excessive traveling, the Pacific Division is also going to be split. The Western Pacific Division will include the Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock, and the Vancouver Titans. Asian-based teams Seoul Dynasty, Hangzhou Spark, Guangzhou Charge, Shanghai Dragons, and Chengdu Hunters will rep the Eastern Pacific Division.
While some teams have already announced new hometown venues, Spector stated that other teams have been working "really hard" on finding their own stadiums. While he wasn't able to share any details, he did note that he was "really excited" to see each teams' visions for what a live OWL event would look like for their fans.
"Our teams have been working really hard on that question and we’re not going to share or announce specifics about team venues today. That’s news that our teams will share as they become ready," Spector said. "But one of the things we’ve always been really excited about is seeing the teams’ visions for what live Overwatch League play looks like for their fans and their markets."
Dallas' Homestand weekend was held at the Allen Event Center, which usually hosts minor league hockey tournaments. In Atlanta, the tournament was located at the Cobb Energy Center, which is a symphony theater complete with a double mezzanine.
"I think as you look to 2020, I would expect that continued diversity where teams will look and make a determination about where they think they can put on awesome, epic experiences for their fans next year. We’ll partner with them to make that happen," Spector said.