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Overwatch League 2021 Season Structure Detailed

A league of their own

The pandemic has caused a major shift in how eSports are handled, as in-person events aren't possible in much of the world right now. This means there needs to be restructuring for any eSports organization out there, and that definitely includes the Overwatch League.

In a new press release and video feature, full plans for the 2021 season of the Overwatch League have been shared. Check out the full breakdown of how things will play out below.

Today, Overwatch Esports Vice President Jon Spector shared updates to our 2021 season in a video posted on overwatchleague.com. To take full advantage of what was learned last season, we’ve made several changes that will improve the quality of competition and the fan experience for this coming season.

Our 2021 season will begin in April. Teams will be divided into two groups: East and West.

The East includes the eight teams competing in China and South Korea: the Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, and Seoul Dynasty.

The West includes the twelve teams competing in Europe and North America: the Atlanta Reign, Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Paris Eternal, San Francisco Shock, Vancouver Titans, Toronto Defiant, and Washington Justice.

Teams in the East and West will play regular-season regional qualifier matches to determine seeding in four standalone tournaments that will feature top teams from both regions competing in one bracket. This is made possible thanks to the minimum latency tool found in Overwatch.

All regular-season matches will count towards qualification for the 2021 Season Playoffs, but only the top teams will qualify for and compete in the four tournaments. We’ll share more details about how teams qualify for tournaments as we get closer to the start of the season.

For our fans, we’re working very closely with YouTube as we enter the second year of our partnership. There are a lot of things in the works that we can’t reveal yet, but we can say that we’re going to level up the quality of our match streams, add more value to watching live matches, and improve the discoverability of live Overwatch content.

We’re also making improvements to our match broadcasts with a new and improved virtual set, a freshly redesigned graphics package, and changes to our show format that place even more emphasis on match play. We’ll have more to share on this later in the offseason.

On the content side, we’re developing new video series that spotlight players and teams, feature pro Overwatch tips, and gather the best analysis from our experts.

Our digital fan experiences are also getting some big upgrades. We’re working on a spoiler-free viewer mode and new integrations with partners like IBM that are going to significantly enhance the way our fans interact with players, teams, and stats.

On the competition side, we’re also working on using a new system that establishes minimum latency connections so that teams anywhere in the world can scrimmage against one another or conduct practices if players are apart.

While we cannot predict the future, we hope to welcome fans back to live events if health and safety conditions improve in 2021, but that might not happen, and it might not be at every location where teams compete. Our top priority remains to keep our players, fans, and staff safe.

Finally, we hope you’ll join us next month for BlizzConline on February 19-20 for a fun San Francisco Shock vs. the World competition. Stay tuned for more info on this event and more updates on the 2021 Overwatch League season, including competition specifics and our complete 2021 regular season schedule.

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