If you’re a casual fan of eSports, you’ve probably heard a lot of murmuring about the Overwatch League. You may have also probably heard the names of some new pro teams mentioned and wondered what happened to the teams you’ve become familiar with. Well, here at Culture of Gaming we’ve decided to break down what the Overwatch League (OWL) is and what you can expect from it.
When to Watch
OWL’s first season will begin with preseason games from December 6th-9th. The official season will begin on January 10th and end on June 16th. The postseason will run from June 17th to July 28th. After all, is said and done, Blizzard has promised an ‘All-Star Weekend‘, which will be a “weekend of festivities as the community’s favorite players face off in unexpected challenges.”
If you’re familiar with professional sports, the format will not be new to you. The first season will take place over four five-week long stages. Games will be played at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles, Wednesday through to Saturday, with three matches each day. Players will get a 10-day break between stages. There are 12 teams in OWL, split into two different divisions.
The actual games will consist of two teams playing on four different maps under the competitive rule-set. This means that draws are a possibility, in which case each team with receive the appropriate amount of points with no tie-breaker game. Teams will play 40 games across the whole season.
At the end of each stage, there will be a playoff stage based on the performance of every team. The winner of the playoff will be declared the winner of that stage, with a prize pool of $125,000 dollars.
Once these four stages are completed, the post-season will begin. The post-season will be based on teams’ performance across all stages, with the top team in each division automatically qualify. The remaining top four teams, from both divisions, will have playoff matches to earn a spot. This all culminates in a knock-out tournament, with the team being declared the Season 1 champions. Not only do they earn that prestigious title, but also the grand prize of $1 million.
The 12 teams playing in OWL’s inaugural season will each represent one of the world’s major cities. The two divisions will be based on their location. The Pacific Division will include teams from Asia and the US’ West Coast. The Atlantic Division will consist of teams from the East Coast and Europe. Teams will play against opponents from both divisions.
Below is a list of all teams that will be playing in Overwatch League Season 1, and the owners of the franchise.
Boston Uprising – Kraft Group
Houston Outlaws – OpTic Gaming
London Spitfire – Cloud9
Florida Mayhem – Misfits
New York Excelsior – Jeff Wilpon
Philadelphia Fusion – Comcast Spectacor
Dallas Fuel – Team Envy
Los Angeles Gladiators – Kroenke Sports & Entertainment
Los Angeles Valiant – Immortals
San Francisco Shock – NRG eSports
Seoul Dynasty – Kevin Chou
Shanghai Dragons – NetEase
As you may notice, many of the franchise owners are familiar names in the Overwatch eSports scene. As a result, some rosters will be familiar to you. Dallas Fuel, for example, is simply Team EnVyUs re-branded. Seoul Dynasty’s roster consists of Lunatic Hai, one of the most popular and dominant Korean teams.
However, not all teams consist of pre-existing rosters. Some, such as Los Angeles Gladiators, have newly-formed teams that have never played professionally together. This is an exciting prospect for many, and it will be interesting to see how these new rosters compete with more refined ones, such as Dallas and Seoul.
Regardless of whether it succeeds, Blizzard is taking a unique approach to eSports with Overwatch League. While many may be disappointed that their favorite player or team did not earn a spot, the announced rosters look strong in general. Also, teams will be given time to add new players during the season, so there’s always the chance to see even more talent being added to the competition.
After the success the Overwatch World Cup had recently in terms of viewership, the future is looking promising for the game as an eSport. It also looks like Blizzard intend to improve the league past its first season, and they intend to implement a ‘home-and-away’ format to games (similar to professional sports teams) instead of matches taking place solely in Los Angeles.
We’ll be keeping you up to date with any OWL related news in the run-up to its first season. If you want to know more about each team, we’ll be putting a spotlight on each of them over the coming weeks.