Blizzard answers big concerns over the state and future of OWL

Jessica S. May 2, 2020

Vice president of Overwatch esports Jon Spector issued a message to the fans in a Reddit post, answering some of the community's most frequent questions about the Overwatch League and offering some rare insight into Blizzard’s ongoing thought process beyond developer Jeff Kaplan’s commentaries.

Spector first hit on the 2020 season and the effect that global events have had on it. The cancellation of homestand matches has caused an upheaval of the schedule, and the answer is to be monthly tournaments. The May tournament is already set, and Spector elaborated that June and July will likely see similar structures. August and September tournaments are still not set, and Blizzard is working out exactly how and when the playoffs will take place.

Token drops returning in OWL Season 3

Since the move to YouTube Gaming, fans have been missing out on token drops, which were utilized on Twitch in previous seasons. Viewers were able to link their Blizzard accounts to Twitch and earn tokens after every match that are redeemable for OWL skins. Spector indicates that they are “a few weeks away” from bringing token drops back to the Overwatch League’s official website, though implementation on YouTube still seems to be a ways out.

Spector also broadly touched on lagging viewership following the move to YouTube, where OWL broadcasts have routinely drawn a fraction of their previous audience. Spector did note that viewership has gone up in parts of Asia, though he provided no specifics.

With the introduction of Riot’s new first-person shooter Valorant, OWL has seen many current and former pro players switch to the new game. Most recently, Jay “Sinatraa” Won has announced his departure to join a Valorant team. Fans were disappointed to see the 2019 MVP leave Overwatch in the middle of the latest season, but Spector has confirmed that the MVP skin from the 2019 season will still be released.

Many fans have been worried about the effect all of the recent changes both in and around the Overwatch pro scene have had on the professional players. Spector has addressed this as well, stating that players have been offered “free world-class health and wellness resources”.

Changes coming to OWL Path to Pro

Lastly, Spector touched on the current state of the tier-two and tier-three Overwatch scene. Teams have been dropping off from the scene rapidly, and it has caused an uproar within the community that Blizzard doesn’t seem to care.

“Our Path to Pro team is actively exploring potential changes to the model.” Spector said.

More community tournaments are apparently on the table for the competitive community, but no other plans have been revealed. Further solutions will be required to make a dent in what has become a growing problem for Overwatch, but fans were heartened to at least hear the problem being formally acknowledged by Blizzard.

The post was generally well-received, with many appreciating the acknowledgement from Blizzard that they are listening to fans. Spector also noted that the developer is looking to do more to Blizzard effectively communicate directly to the community.