After a long offseason, Details on the 2021 Overwatch League season have finally been released. The competitions will officially begin on April 16 with a match between Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel. The championship schedule will follow a series of four four-week tournaments with a week off between each. The teams will be divided into two divisions, East and West, and will play four qualifying matches for each tournament. The victories accumulated during the qualifiers they will come counted towards the final classification in the form of points, with extra points awarded to teams that rank very well in the tournament playoffs.
The four tournaments – May Melee, June Joust, Summer Showdown and Countdown Cup – they are a structure that returns from the 2020 season. The last season was not initially conceived with tournaments in mind, but with the passage of online competitions, the league has implemented tournaments to make regular season games more exciting. Although it started out as a necessity, fans have come to like the new format. Now, in 2021, tournaments will be there from the start.
“We had a long off-season to think about the things we did well and the things we might have tripped over during the 2020 season,” he said. Adam Mierzejewski, Senior Competition Operations Manager. “We had to make a major change in the middle of the season, but a lot of big wins came from it. Listening to our audience e taking our time during the off season to develop an exciting 2021, we realized that we needed tournaments in our new season because they create fantastic competitive moments.
Another thing the league has kept from the 2020 season is the hero pool system. Hero pools remove some characters from the game for ensure greater variety in the composition of the team. In early 2020, the league used a weekly rotation of playable heroes. The system has been criticized for the way it was structured, with weekly hero removals perceived as too punitive for players and teams, and was phased out over the season. This year, the hero pools will be used for two of the four tournaments – June Joust and the Countdown Cup.
“The Hero Pools were originally designed for maximize the variety in gameplay feature of Overwatch, and all the different heroes that can be played, ”said the senior manager Sean Miller. “But at the same time, there is a balance that we found last year that needs to re-occur. It takes a little extra work to stay competitive and we don’t want to overload the teams that train every day. We believe now, with these month-long hero pools, the extra workload for players and coaches will be minimized. It will also help give fans variety while providing a pleasant and consistent destination for an entire tournament ”.
Game patches will follow a similar schedule. The latest Overwatch patches will only be implemented in the Overwatch League between tournaments. Patches will inevitably have an impact on the meta and the Hero Pools, but league staff are constantly working with Overwatch developers to ensure teams are well informed in advance.
“The patches create some unknowns,” Mierzejewski said. “We work closely with the developer team on many of these topics – Hero Pools, game patches, map pools – and we want to make sure of give teams sufficient notice of what the patches will contain. By the end of the first tournament, for example, they will know the new patch and their Hero Pool, and will have a week off between tournaments to prepare. I think we are giving them a lot of time and transparency on how these things will happen ”.