The Overwatch League’s 20 teams will descend on the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles on Feb. 14, the league announced this morning.
With eight more teams signed into the Overwatch League this year, the league’s front office was able to decrease the total number of matches for each team, but increase the number of matches overall. Teams played 40 regular season matches in the first season, whereas in season two, they’ll play 28 per team. That adds up to a total of 40 more regular season matches in season two. The expansion teams have been divided into the two existing divisions. Paris, Toronto, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta will operate as part of the Atlantic Division. Vancouver, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou are now part of the Pacific Division.
The Overwatch League will settle into longer breaks between each of the five stages. Blizzard hasn’t said how long the breaks will be, however. “One thing we heard from players is that a week off is great, but you’re competing for what to do with that time,” Overwatch League franchise and competition director Jon Spector told Dot Esports. “[Do you] rest and catch up on sleep? Practice for the next stage and learn the new hero? Or go back to your home city and spend time with fans?” With longer breaks, players can take care to keep a balanced schedule.
Spector also said that the weekly schedule is more “relaxed,” with teams playing one or two matches per week—with the occasional bye week, too. Player health was a concern with regards to the schedule, but Spector said the new format will encourage higher-level Overwatch matches. Teams will be able to prepare more thoroughly for each opponent while also being able to take care of their health and wellness.
“We wanted to create an environment where players are excited to play each week,” Spector said. “Players don’t have to sprint for five weeks to have only one week off.”
Following the regular season, teams will be seeded into the post-season matches. Two division winners—one from each—will qualify for the playoffs, as will the next top four teams regardless of division. A play-in tournament will determine two additional teams that’ll make the playoffs. The play-in tournament will be held right after the regular season ends, Blizzard said.
The All-Star Weekend will no longer fall in the Overwatch League off-season. Instead, it’ll take place during an extended break between stage two and three. The extended break with the All-Star Weekend will serve as a “bigger celebratory moment” in the middle of the season—something to keep fans excited about Overwatch League.
Further details about the Overwatch League’s schedule are expected “later this year.”