In a follow-up to Wednesday’s announcement, the Overwatch League has decided to move to an online format starting March 21st. League commissioner Pete Vlalestica had previously stated that the matches themselves were still going to be played.
To be clear, we WILL be playing matches in March and April. We cancelled the events, not the matches (though we will have to move a few things around in the schedule to make this work). https://t.co/guxoTWLhMk
— Pete Vlastelica (@PeteVlastelica) March 11, 2020
Details about the schedule, which has been wiped clean through the end of April, were scarce in the announcement post on the OWL website. However, a revised schedule will be released next week ahead of the first online matches.
What is known is that games will be played in three regional groups based on where teams are located. Those are likely Asia, NA West, and NA East. The move to online play should give fans their first look at several of the teams in the Pacific Conference, especially those based in Asia.
Included in the announcement was the cancellation of the OWL’s Midseason Tournament, which was slated to include the league’s top four teams at the season’s midway point. The tournament was the centerpiece of All-Star Weekend, which has now been moved to the end of the season to accommodate the changing schedule.
The decision to move matches online had been the subject of wide speculation since Wednesday’s announcement. Losing out on the Homestands is tough, but the OWL and esports, in general, are well-positioned to continue operation through online play.
The Overwatch League also doubled-down on its commitment to the homestand model, stating that it plans to return to team hosted matches when it is safe to do so. For now, though, the OWL has made the decision to put safety first for its players, fans, and staff.