The path to the postseason is now clear for Overwatch League teams.
The league revealed details about its postseason plans today, developed amid a constantly-changing landscape of COVID-19. All 20 teams in the Overwatch League will have a chance to make it to a Grand Finals bracket, which are set to take place online in South Korea in late September or early October.
Initial postseason brackets will remain split between North America and Asia, according to the Overwatch League. Brackets will mirror that of the May Melee and Summer Showdown tournaments, with 13 teams participating in North America and seven teams playing in Asia.
Postseason play begins on Sept. 3 with single-elimination “play-in” brackets for the lowest-seeded teams. After these are complete, double-elimination play will begin on Sept. 5 for the teams that made it through their play-in brackets. The following week, all remaining teams will compete in a double-elimination bracket to crown the two top squads per region, one each from the winners and losers brackets.
These four teams will compete in Asia for the Grand Finals tournament. The league is looking specifically at South Korea as the basis of operations, according to Adam Mierzejewski, senior manager of competition operations for the Overwatch League.
Teams won’t be participating in a LAN tournament due to safety concerns. Instead, they’ll be playing on online servers in Asia “to reduce latency issues” and offer a fair competitive environment.
“Safety of players and staff is obviously our top priority,” Mierzejewski said, noting that there will be a multi-week break between the first postseason brackets and the actual Grand Finals tournament.
Teams from North America, in accordance with global safety regulations, would have to quarantine in place for at least 14 days upon travel to South Korea. Teams already located in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region would remain in their facilities for the tournament.
Five top-seeded teams in North America and Asia will have an automatic bye into the double-elimination tournaments. The remaining teams will be vying for three spots in those double-elimination brackets. “We wanted every team [in the league] to have a path to the Grand Finals, even if it’s pretty grueling,” said Aditya Rudra, lead strategy manager for the Overwatch League.
Seeding and byes for the postseason are determined by a team’s performance during the regular season. This includes any bonus wins accrued by teams who won or placed highly in the three monthly tournaments. The Shanghai Dragons, for example, won the May Melee and have had three bonus wins added to their regular-season record.
Aside from the initial tournaments, which are scheduled for Sept. 3 and 5, specific dates in relation to Grand Finals aren’t set in stone. Due to the constantly-changing global climate of COVID-19, league staff “have to plan for everything and include flexibility,” Mierzejewski said.
The Overwatch League continues on July 17 with the final monthly tournament of 2020, the Countdown Cup, beginning at 2pm CT. The Paris Eternal, the Summer Showdown champions, will be facing off against the Vancouver Titans.