On February 8, 2020, the OWL 2020 season officially starts. This will be the third season of the League’s existence, and the Overwatch League has made significant changes from its inaugural season. Here’s what to expect come February 8th. Especially if you’re into Overwatch League Betting.
Overwatch League 2020 Format
The League has a total of 20 teams broken up into two (2) conferences each with two (2) smaller divisions. Previously, the League featured the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions. In the offseason, the League renamed them to the Atlantic and Pacific Conferences. Furthermore, the two conferences split into the North and South Divisions, and East and West Divisions respectively. Conferences and Divisions are as follows:
- OWL 2020 Previews: Pacific Conference East Division
- OWL 2020 Previews: Pacific Conference West Division
- OWL 2020 Previews: Atlantic Conference North Division
- OWL 2020 Previews: Atlantic Conference South Division
New Overwatch League Gameplay
This season, all Overwatch League gameplay will be streamed exclusively on YouTube on the official Overwatch League Youtube channel. This is a big change from previous seasons that were hosted on streaming platform twitch.tv.
In terms of actual gameplay, matches consist of 6v6 head-to-head games. While only six (6) players from a team can compete at a time, team rosters can have up to twelve (12) players. In between matches, teams can substitute in alternate players on their roster of their choosing.
Just like previous seasons, the first team to accumulate three (3) match victories wins the set. However, in previous seasons teams played a required 4th match even if a team won three straight games in a row. This season, if a team accumulates three (3) wins before reaching the fourth match, they automatically win, and the set ends.
Another example of changes to the Overwatch League will be the elimination of the staging system. In the past, the League held three (3) or four (4) “stage playoffs” during the regular season which were then followed by a final playoff stage. This year, stage playoffs no longer exist, leaving one continuous season. Instead of stages, the season is now punctuated by occasional break periods, as well as a Midseason Tournament and All-Star Event.
In past seasons, the League has implemented meta-oriented changes to keep gameplay fresh and diverse. The 2-2-2 team composition now used in casual Overwatch play was first created as a way to diversify OWL matches. This season, Blizzard director Jeff Kaplan announced a system of rotating hero bans. In short, random groups of heroes will be cycled in and out of availability on a weekly basis.
This system prevents a single team composition from overly dominating the meta. Now, teams must constantly adapt and adjust their compositions. Additionally, players with deeper hero pools will now be even more valuable under this system.
Overwatch League 2020 Homestand Matches
During past seasons, all regular League matches were held in the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California. In 2019, Blizzard introduced “homestand matches” in which teams travelled to Dallas and Atlanta to play in front of home crowds. This season, this system has significantly expanded. Now, all teams play a certain number of homestand matches in home-city arenas worldwide. With travelling teams and international matches, the League is aiming to bring a more traditional competitive sporting feel to the world of esports.
However, this also adds an extra burden to players. By holding almost all its matches in a fixed location, the League eliminated any need for its players to travel. Now, players potentially face lengthy travel times when switching between international arenas for matches.
Past OWL Winners
The London Spitfire defeated the Philadelphia Fusion in the Grand Finals of the Overwatch League’s first season. In the 2019 season, the San Francisco Shock won the honor by defeating the Vancouver Titans in dominant fashion. Because of their strong performance, many consider them as a strong Overwatch bet going into week 1. But with so many gameplay and roster changes happening this offseason, there are many teams hoping to make a strong statement on opening weekend.