Overwatch League trade dates and contract changes explained

After a rough start, Overwatch League's 2020 season has come to an end, and fans are already starting to see all of their favorite players tweet about contracts for the 2021 season.

There has been a lot of confusion on social media as to what exactly is happening with teams and players going into the game's off-season. Many players have already started looking for teams, and some of their fans are surprised that such skilled players are being let go by teams. But just because a player is looking for a new team doesn't necessarily mean that they will end up on a different team. 

OWL 2021 trades and free agency explained

OWL vice president Jon Spector tweeted clarifying exactly what it means when a fan's favorite player posts an LFT tweet.

"Players may choose to share their contract status with fans ... though many pending free agents do not techinically become free agents until October 23 or November 20," Spector said. 

This means that anyone with an expiring contract is on a list for the general managers of each team. Players can begin talks with teams other than their current team and use those discussions as leverage if they wish to negotiate their pay with their current team. On October 23, players not signed by an Overwatch League team for the 2021 season become free agents and can sign with any team. 

The outline provided on the OWL website is as follows: 

  • Oct. 12, 2020: Teams may begin submitting player trades for the league office review. All player trades are subject to league office approval prior to becoming effective. Teams may also begin extending or otherwise signing their current players to standard contracts.
  • Oct. 16, 2020: Deadline by which teams must exercise any options to extend existing contracts which were initially executed in 2020.
  • Oct. 23, 2020: PSAs signed using the 2020 professional services agreement (PSA) template that are not extended terminate and such players become free agents. Players who are signed using the 2020 PSA template whose contracts extend into the 2021 season begin receiving base salary at the 2021 season rate.
  • Oct. 24, 2020: Teams may begin signing free agents to contracts for the 2021 season.
  • Nov. 13, 2020: Deadline by which teams must exercise any team options to extend existing contracts which were initially executed in 2019.
  • Nov. 20, 2020: Players whose contracts that are not extended become free agents. Teams and players also may mutually agree to an early release from contracts prior to this date.

Contract changes for 2021 season

For the 2021 OWL season, all teams are required to have at least seven players signed to season-long contracts at all times. Teams can still have a maximum of 12 players signed to any type of contract. 

Season-long contracts have a minimum timeframe of one year, and a maximum of three years. A player's season-long contract can be terminated without cause, but a buyout fee will be agreed upon in advance. 

30-day contracts are available to teams who already have seven players on season-long contracts. When 30 days is up, a player then becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team. There is no option to extend a 30-day contract.

Two-way player contracts were also mentioned in the rules, but they are rare and involve players on a Contenders team who can be brought up to play for an OWL team bearing in mind the rules of the contract.

January 4, 2021 is the deadline for all teams to have their seven season-long contracted players in place, but teams can still trade and sign free agents until the league office imposes a roster lock date.

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