On Sept. 3, the Overwatch League postseason officially begins and fans are excited for the usual intense, chaotic games that the playoffs bring. In 2020, however, the playoff process looks much different thanks to regional separation and a new format that gives every team in the league a chance to make it to the Grand Finals.
The Overwatch League’s playoff brackets have never been more confusing. While the league’s official site has brackets and schedules posted, without knowledge of how tournament brackets work, that data might not mean anything to some fans.
We’ll be walking you through the Overwatch League’s complete postseason, breaking down how teams will move through the two regional brackets and eventually make it to the 2020 Grand Finals, which take place from Oct. 8 to 10 in South Korea.
For the first time, all 20 teams in the Overwatch League have a chance to make it to the Grand Finals. The league has been split into two regions, North America and Asia, and teams have been divided up the same way they were in the season’s monthly tournaments. Teams will participate in individual brackets in their region. Two winners from each region will move on to the Grand Finals bracket.
The best way to visualize the flow of the postseason is to use the Overwatch League Bracket Builder. Even if you’re not submitting a bracket to win any of the prizes, the prompts will allow you to follow along with the various rounds of play. Since North America has more teams involved and is more complex, our walkthrough will start there.
Thirteen teams in the North America bracket will battle it out to crown two teams who will travel to South Korea, undergo quarantine, then play in the Grand Finals bracket. Each team has been “seeded” (or placed) into the postseason bracket according to their regular season record.
Lower-seeded teams, who have worse regular season records, will have to participate in single-elimination rounds before they make it to a higher level of the bracket, which is double-elimination. Single-elimination means that if a team loses, they’re out of the playoffs for good. Double-elimination gives teams a second chance. If a team loses in a double-elimination round, they drop to the losers bracket and can still battle their way back to a Grand Finals spot.
Elimination rounds (Sept. 3 and 4)
During the first day of playoffs, the four lowest-seeded teams in North America will fight it out to move on in the postseason. On Sept. 3, the Boston Uprising will face the Houston Outlaws at 2pm CT and the Washington Justice will face the Vancouver Titans at 4pm CT. Since this is single-elimination, only two teams will move on to the next stage of the competition. Two teams will be eliminated and their Overwatch League season will end.
After the first elimination round is complete, round two teams—the Los Angeles Gladiators, Atlanta Reign, and Dallas Fuel—will select their opponents. They can choose from the two winners from Sept. 3 or the Toronto Defiant, who have a “bye” (or pass) into the Sept. 4 matches.
The six remaining teams will face off on Sept. 4, starting with the Los Angeles Gladiators and their chosen opponent at 2pm CT. Only three teams will move on from this final single-elimination round.
At the conclusion of the Sept. 4 matches, the four highest seeds in North America will choose their opponents. The Philadelphia Fusion, San Francisco Shock, Florida Mayhem, and Paris Eternal can choose from the three winners from Sept. 4 or the Los Angeles Valiant. These are the final eight teams that will make up the true North American postseason bracket.
Double-elimination bracket (Sept. 5 to 13)
Eight teams will then participate in a double-elimination bracket, playing games on Sept. 5 and 6, as well as the following weekend from Sept. 11 to 13.
If a team loses in the original bracket, or “winners bracket,” they get another chance at glory. They’ll be moved to the lower “losers bracket,” where teams can make a comeback by defeating other teams that have also lost. If a team loses twice in a row, in both the winners and losers brackets, they’ll be eliminated from the Overwatch League postseason.
At the end of these matches, the final two teams—one from the winners bracket and one from the losers bracket—will move on to the 2020 Grand Finals.
After seeing the chaos that is the North America bracket, the Asia region’s bracket is much easier to understand. Only seven teams are located within this region, so sorting out teams is much simpler.
On Sept. 4, the Chengdu Hunters and London Spitfire will participate in an elimination match as the region’s two lowest seeds. One team will move on to the Sept. 5 matches. After the Sept. 4 matches, the New York Excelsior and Hangzhou Spark will choose their opponents. They can select from the Sept. 4 winner or the Seoul Dynasty, who have a bye into the Sept. 5 games.
After the Sept. 5 games, only two teams will move on to join the Shanghai Dragons and Guangzhou Charge, the region’s top seeds. These four teams will participate in a double-elimination bracket to crown two winners, one from the top bracket and one from the bottom or losers bracket.
Those two winning teams will move on to participate in the Grand Finals bracket alongside the two top teams from North America.
All of the Overwatch League postseason action begins on Sept. 3 in North America and Sept. 4 at 4am CT for Asia.