Jessica S. March 28, 2020
Due to the health concerns related to the COVID-19 epidemic, the Overwatch League continues to make decisions to keep the season alive, including most recently moving to an online-only competitive format.
Although this is OWL’s third season, this was supposed to be the first year for the league’s matches to be hosted primarily in host cities. US-based fans were able to get a glimpse of what homestands were like in February when the league started its season. For Asian and European fans, the experience was cancelled far before it was able to begin.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged parts of the world and has had a massive impact on esports events. Some leagues such as OWL have never had an online-only format. In addition, this weekend was yet again altered because of stay-at-home orders issued by various governments, making it impossible for teams to gather together to play their matches.
Because of the shutdown and the need for multiple teams to relocate to accommodate the format change, the league trimmed this weekend’s match count from 16 to 10.
OWL Vice President Jon Spector detailed how the online matches would work. Players will have their games hosted on the server that correlates to their location. League talent and staff are all working from home.
Many fans are wondering how integrity will be preserved in online matches. Spector elaborated on this topic, telling fans that there would be checks made before the matches, and that there is software installed on each computer used by players to ensure competitive integrity and compliance.
One aspect of the game fans enjoy most is seeing the players during the match, but Spector admits this is a difficult battle given the situation.
“Webcams have been incredibly difficult to obtain as so many people shift to working or competing from home,” Spector said.
Only select teams and players will have active cameras this weekend.
For both hemispheres, the schedule will be rough. Games start at all hours for fans around the world, including as early as 1 a.m. in the United States.