Overwatch League Vice President Jon Spector released new news about the 2021 OWL season, including a new structure, viewing upgrades, start dates, and possible in-person events.
In previous seasons, the Overwatch League has typically announced a January or February start. But this year, fans won’t see their first matches until April. Up until now, only an “early spring” start date was announced.
Spector said that starting later in the year gave them more time to allow planning for possible in-person events later in the year. In 2020, there were very few in-person events that fans could attend, and Spector hopes to be able to host them once again in 2021.
The 2021 season will mirror a lot of what fans saw in late 2020 with tournaments. OWL has lamented that fans have enjoyed the tournament experience far more than stages, so they will be continuing with a tournament structure for the 2021 season.
There will be four standalone tournaments that the season will center around, but there will still be some regular-season matches that will act as qualifiers for the tournaments. This is a change from 2020, where all teams were able to compete in the tournaments.
Another big change is that teams from both divisions will be able to compete in one tournament bracket. This is due to a new latency system that reduces ping across long distances. This gives fans a chance to see the best of the best compete against each other before the playoffs.
Divisions have been overhauled and will consist of only two divisions, East and West. The distribution of teams in each division is listed as follows:
The OWL is planning many new viewership upgrades for the 2021 season, but will still be hosted on YouTube Gaming’s platform. Spector didn’t promise much in his announcement, but he said fans should be excited for the coming changes. One such change is a “spoiler-free” viewing mode. For fans who can’t make the live matches, game results will no longer be revealed by preview images.
More information on the 2021 OWL season will be announced at BlizzConline, which will also see host to the “Shock vs. The World” event where the San Francisco shock will defend their two-time championship against a team of all-star players.