With the Overwatch League off-season being nothing but a waiting game for fans who can’t wait to see their favorite teams get back in action, Blizzard announced the Overwatch team’s plans for 2021. Vice President of Overwatch Esports Jon Spector revealed that the opening day will be delayed. Since the launch of the Overwatch League, the kickoff was always between January or February, but that is set to change next season. In 2021, the League will begin in Spring which will allow teams and operations to plan the matches around the pandemic. It is unknown if the Homestand model will be making a comeback, but players should not get their hopes up for in-person matches unless anytime soon.
New Tournament-Focused Schedule for Overwatch League 2021
The tournament-focused schedule which was first introduced in 2020, will be making a comeback. The format will see teams compete in Stage tournaments. Spector did mention that the tournament might be tweaked to include multiple formats, unlike the previous season.
Overwatch League will also be moving to a regional format which will see the League split into multiple regions. The previous installment of the League saw two sets of teams from North America and the Asia Pacific compete separately. We may see even more regions this time around similar to how Overwatch Contenders breaks up the regions. There are 13 teams from the North American region at the moment and the APAC region houses 7 teams.
Off-Season Events for The Fans
With no Overwatch League matches scheduled until Spring 2021, Spector revealed that there will be some off-season events to keep the fans happy. Contenders League, which is the semi-pro circuit in Overwatch will revive its Gauntlet series for the off-season.
The 2021 Blizzconline event will also feature the Overwatch League. With the yearly convention being moved to an online format, Blizzard is working on a Shock vs The World Tournament. Multiple Overwatch League dream teams will be taking on San Francisco Shock, the two-time world champions.
There is some hope for in-person tournaments next season with Spector stating that end-of-season tournaments might be held on-stage. The team is currently working on competitive structures to find something that clicks. The Homestand format where teams had home matches on the weekends, allowing fans to spectate the matches in person will not be possible until the global pandemic comes under control and it is safer for players, fans, and organizers.