The popularity of the Overwatch League reached a new high this season after just two years of existence, and with a massive alteration of the leagues schedule there is an opportunity for that level of excitement to rise another level or two.
Early Tuesday morning the League officially announced that the 2020 season will feature a home-and-away format similar to all of the major professional sports leagues.
“It’s a really big deal,” said Atlanta Reign CEO and President Paul Hamilton. “We are applying traditional sports to esports.:
Beginning in February and running through August, all 20 teams, including the Atlanta Reign, will compete in 28 matches (similar to the 2019 season), but this time each will have the opportunity to host 2-5 games. The Atlanta Reign have no set venue as of this date. The team hosted their most recent weekend series at the Cobb Energy Centre on July 6 and 7.
“The response was insane,” said Atlanta Reign head coach Bradford Rajani, a 20-year veteran of the sport, of Atlanta’s response to the 2019 weekend home stand. “People get into it because they want to represent their city. This schedule will bring in a whole new group of fans.”
Each team will host a minimum of two weekends, with those weekend series similar to how they have been hosted this past season in Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles. There will be no new teams added to the league this season to better accommodate the new schedule structure.
The Overwatch League began with a schedule more suited to a pop-up shop during its first two seasons. This season the majority of the matches (not games, but matches) were played in California, the leagues home base, with the exception being that weekend in metro Atlanta.
The 2020 season will allow teams a better “home field advantage” and fans a better opportunity to witness matches in person.
The 2020 standings have changed as well as the league will be broken up into two conferences and four divisions to suit the home-and-away model. There will be 19 cities represented throughout the league from all over the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Korea, London and Paris. The Pacific and Atlantic Conferences will be split into four divisions, East and West in the Pacific and Southern and Northern in the Atlantic. Each division will house five teams each:
- East: Chengdu (China), Guangzhou (China), Hangzhou (China), Shanghai (China) and Seoul (South Korea)
- West: Dallas, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco and Vancouver
- Southern: Atlanta, Florida, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
- Northern: Boston, London (UK), New York, Paris (France) and Toronto (Canada)
The idea of altering the scheduling format to fit a more traditional major sports league style was originally announced in March of this year. The leagues postseason format will remain the same with 12 of the 20 teams, six from each conference, qualifying for the playoffs (two division winners automatically qualify along with the next four best records regardless of the division).
The Overwatch Grand Finals, the leagues championship event will take place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sept. 29.
Correction: This report has been updated to show that the Overwatch league has existed for 2 years and has 20 teams. The number of games each team will have the opportunity to host has also been updated.