Esports events have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 outbreak since the beginning of 2020, including Blizzard’s Overwatch League. To make up for cancellations since the season began in February, the company has released an amended OWL schedule through May.
Conference changes: The league normally comprises of two divisions, the Atlantic and Pacific conferences. According to Vice President of Overwatch Esports Jon Spector, team play will now be organized into three geographical groups going forward. This is includes the Atlantic (10 teams), Pacific (6 teams) and China (4 teams) divisions. This geographic dispersion is important to compensate for latency issues, as matches will be played online until live events are clear to run again.
Spector stated that the plan is to add more games to the season until May in order to make up for March postponements. By adding Friday matches, this should mean that the league is caught up by May 1st. He announced that league play resumes on Saturday, March 21st, with Seoul Dynasty taking on the San Francisco Shock.
Event Cancellation: Two key season events, All Stars and the Mid-Season Invitational, will also be affected by the change in schedule. All Stars will happen, but is shifted back to the end of the season. Since not enough matches have occurred to justify the Mid-Season Invitational at this point, the event is now cancelled. This will come as a disappointment to fans, but the league has enough content to keep people entertained for now.
You can hear more details on Blizzard’s new OWL plans by viewing the Watchpoint, the league’s official coverage show, here. The episode also includes more details on hero pool bans, as well as feedback and strategies to improve the system.