The Overwatch League released a brand new update video on Monday. The video featured Vice President of the Overwatch League Jon Spector, who offered some new information about the upcoming OWL 2021 season, including a rough start date, new information about the season format, and some events that are coming up in the off-season. The most notable piece of information in this video is that the start date of the 2021 season is being pushed back to sometime this spring.
Season start date pushed back to spring
The 2021 Overwatch League season will start in the spring, instead of kicking off in February like it has for the past three seasons. There were some rumors that the start date was going to be pushed back, but Spector is the first official source to confirm the new season launch time.
“Our 2021 season will start in the spring,” explained Spector in the update video. “This gives us a little more time to plan than when we typically started in February. It also gives us and the teams a little more opportunity to deal with all the logistics and be ready to hit 2021 running when the season begins.”
The Overwatch League has not yet announced the exact date they intend to kick things off.
Regional tournaments return
The second big update in this video was that regional tournaments will return for the next season of the Overwatch League. In 2020, the Overwatch League commissioners introduced a brand new set of tournaments midseason. The May Melee, Summer Showdown, and Countdown Cup took place over the summer in 2020, with each event featuring an NA regional tournament and an APAC regional tournament. Each tournament included three weeks of regular season matches which served as tournament qualifiers, followed by a bracketed tournament to name eventual the victor of each event.
According to Monday’s update, these tournaments will be returning in 2021 with a modified format. Spector said that they will be looking to build the entire season around the regional tournament constructs this time, and that the OWL will be considering a variety of format options to optimize the tournament structure for next season.
As of now, it also appears that the NA and APAC regional divide will also return next year, a decision that was driven by ongoing safety and travel concerns. It is not yet official which teams will be competing in which region, since several teams including London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, and Paris Eternal were playing outside their original regions in 2020. According to Spector, the league is still in discussions with various teams to finalize next year’s regions.
Finally, Monday’s video announced that the Overwatch League will be featured at the BlizzCon Online event which is scheduled to take place February 19th-20th. Blizzcon Online is a free event for everyone, which was announced to take the place of BlizzCon 2020 which was cancelled in May. According to Monday’s announcement, the BlizzCon Online broadcast is set to include a fun, community-focused tournament which revolves around the 2020 season championship team, San Francisco Shock.
Spector 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’s going to be a ton of fun and we can’t wait to show all of you what we have planned there.”
Spector also mentioned that there is an off-season tournament series in the works. The series will feature professional players, but as of now no further official details about these tournaments have been released.