The conclusion of Stage 3 saw Blizzard release the schedule for the 2020 season. Overwatch League Season 3 will not see any new teams, however, it will have a unique flavor to its schedule. All matches will feature the ‘home and away’ system, one that is instrumental to OWL’s success.
The Format for Season 3
As expected, Overwatch League Season 3 will continue with 28 teams. This number remains the same from Season 2. However, Season 3 will emphasize their focus on enabling teams to play ‘Home and Away’ matches.
Up until Season 2, the majority of matches for the Overwatch League took place at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles. There were a few Homestand matches in other cities, however, Los Angeles remained the home of the Overwatch League. Blizzard always had plans to host Overwatch League matches in a Home and Away format. Season 3 presents the perfect opportunity for the League to move into a ‘Home and Away’ format.
The Division System
Overwatch League has two divisions: The Atlantic Division and the Pacific Division. For the first two seasons, these divisions seemed to serve no purpose, except theoretical segregation of the teams.
However, with Season 3, the various divisions will have a much more crucial role to play. The two divisions will now be called ‘The Atlantic Conference’ and ‘The Pacific Conference’. Each conference is further subdivided into smaller parts.
The Divisions and the teams in these divisions are as follows:
- Boston Uprising
- London Spitfire
- New York Excelsior
- Paris Eternal
- Toronto Defiant
- Atlanta Reign
- Florida Mayhem
- Houston Outlaws
- Philadelphia Fusion
- Washington Justice
- Chengdu Hunters
- Guangzhou Charge
- Hangzhou Spark
- Shanghai Dragons
- Seoul Dynasty
- Dallas Fuel
- Los Angeles Valiant
- Los Angeles Gladiators
- San Francisco Shock
- Vancouver Titans
Each team will host two Homestand weekends. Teams in each division will also collectively host three additional regular-season events in their home territories. The announcement mentions the start of Season 3 on February 2020. It will conclude in August, pretty much like Season 1 and 2. The timing of the matches will be optimized for the local markets.
The timing of these matches is crucial since the focus of each team is to increase their fanbase. They will want to improve the sale of merchandise as well as the loyalty of fans from the local market.
No More Stages in the Overwatch League
The 2020 Overwatch league will no longer feature different stages in the Regular Season. The Season will have a mid-season All-Stars event. The lack of Stages possibly puts the entire season as one long continuous League.
There will be a total of 52 Homestead weekends in Season 3. Each team has two Homestand matches, where they will invariably have their home crowd’s support. The relatively even distribution of Homestand matches will provide an opportunity for all teams and conferences to grow at the same pace. The individual strategies of the teams in their local market will be crucial to the development of the League’s popularity and finances.
The full schedule and format for Season 3 will be released in August. For now, it does seem that there will be a big change to the current format of four matches per day from Thursday to Sunday.
Overwatch Role Lock
Amidst heavy speculation, Stage 4 of the Overwatch League will feature a 2-2-2 Hero composition role lock. The implementation of a role lock-in Overwatch comes nearly four years after Blizzard has shied away from limiting the player experience to a few heroes.
In the initial years of Overwatch, there were no limits to the repetitive picking of certain heroes in the game. So it would not be surprising to see six Tracers or six Mei’s in the game. It made the games extremely frustrating and difficult to play against.
The decision to make players move seats if they would change roles between maps does sound out of the ordinary. Surely, Blizzard can ensure that the players do not need to change seats if they were to change their roles between maps. However, this does seem to be a small inconvenience, one that the teams would want to change if they are inconvenienced by it.
Blizzard has decided to implement the role lock-in Stage 4, providing them with ample opportunity to tweak it before Season 3. With multiple changes coming to the League in Season 3, it is imperative that Blizzard can reduce the number of problems at hand. Blizzard will still be handling the duties of broadcasting and production. However, individual teams and Divisions will handle the sale of tickets, merchandise, and travel. The schedule allows for minimal travel for the teams, reducing overhead costs.