Overwatch: 2021 Season to Begin in Spring and will Include Regional Tournaments
It will be a long winter for Overwatch fans as the date for the start of the new season has been pushed back. The Vice President of the Overwatch League, Jon Spector, made the announcement via video. In his video statement, he confirmed that the Overwatch League 2021 season will kick off in spring, which is later than what the Overwatch community is conversant with. Regularly, the new season starts in February.
Even though an exact date was not announced for the league’s return, Spector has said that the postponement will give them a bit more time to plan accordingly due to the uncertainties of the past months and the future. He also shed light on the new season format and some events that will be coming up in the off-season.
There was also no mention of the “Homestand” model that had teams host weekend games in their cities. That is an indication that games will most likely be played online, at least at the start of the season.
The 2021 season will follow the tournament format that was introduced mid-season in 2020. The format was introduced as a way to adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The league commissioners started events that featured in the NA regional tournament and an APAC regional tournament. These events include May Melee, Summer Showdown, and Countdown Cup, all of which featured in the latter half of 2020. Three weeks of regular-season matches served as tournament qualifiers before the main tournament kicked-off later to crown the winner of each event.
Even as these tournament formats will be returning for the 2021 league season, changes have been made. Instead of it featuring for just half the season, the entire structure of the 2021 Overwatch League season will be around the regional tournament construct. In Jon’s words, “we will have an opportunity to optimize that, we will be experimenting and looking at different bracket formats, some different competitive structures, and in particular to build an entire season around the tournament construct.”
The regional divide, NA and APAC, will also return in the new season. The rationale behind this is to continue to promote safety and reduce travel. A final decision on which team will be competing in what region is yet to be made as Spector pointed out that the league is still in discussions with various teams before finalizing next year’s regions.
Although fans have to wait longer than usual for the start of the new season, scheduled offseason tournaments will keep them engaged. The Gauntlet will be wrapping up the 2020 competitions, pitching the best teams from each region against each other.
On February 19 through to 20, there will be a Blizzcon Online event that is free for everyone. The 2020 Blizzcon event scheduled for May was canceled and will be coming back in 2021 as an offseason event. Following the announcement, the offseason event will include a fun, community-focused tournament which revolves around the winners of the 2020 season – San Francisco Shock.
Spector has tagged the event “Shock versus the world.” It will feature the defending champions taking on teams of pro players. He explained, “the event is called ‘Shock versus the world’ and will feature our two-time defending champions, the San Francisco Shock, taking on dream teams of other pro players, community figures, etc., in a series of Overwatch-related challenges. We think that is going to be a ton of fun and we can’t wait to show all of you what we have planned there.
There is another offseason tournament the vice president of the Overwatch League hinted at. But, as of now, no concrete information about this tournament has been released.