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An Analysis of the OWL May Tournament Plans

During the Week 12 Overwatch League Watchpoint Postshow, Vice President Jon Spector announced plans to host two May OWL Tournaments. Spector stated this was something they worked on with players and now feel comfortable with it because the online environment is now “more stable” and ready for something of this scale.

The Region Structure

These tournaments will feature two regions: the Asian region and North American Region. The Asain region comprises the Guangzhou Charge, Shanghai Dragons, Seoul Dynasty, New York Excelsior, Chengdu Hunters, Hangzhou Spark, and London Spitfire. Then the North American Region will feature the Toronto Defiant, Paris Eternal, Dallas Fuel, Philadelphia Fusion, LA Gladiators, Washington Justice, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, Atlanta Reign, SF Shock, Boston Uprising, LA Valiant, and the Vancouver Titans.

A few important things to note here. For one thing the Vancouver Titans after a short stint in Korea are coming back to North America to play. Most importantly though is what is going on in the North American region. Now that OWL officials feel comfortable in the online environment, they are doing cross country matches. Notably the LA Valiant and Atlanta Reign match up this upcoming week. Teams will no longer be stuck in their bubbles with geographic restriction when playing. This allows for teams to be more accurately rated.

Tournament Structure

Image Courtesy of Overwatch League

In terms of structure, nothing will change immediately. The next three weeks of matches will go on as planned. Every team’s record during these next three weeks will help calculate where the teams in each region will be seeded for the tournament. In North America, the top four seeds will receive a bye to the main bracket while the rest of the region will play play-in matches on Friday May 22nd. There will be a match between the 12th and 13th seed to determine who stays in the tournament.

Image Courtesy of Overwatch League

Then seeds five through eight will each pick there opponent for their play in match. When it comes to the final bracket, each of the top four seeds will get to pick their opponent from the remaining seeds. The bracket will then continue as normal with quaterfinals on Saturday May 23rd with the Semifinals and Finals on Sunday May 24th.

Image Courtesy of Overwatch League

In the Asian region, there will be no play in tournament because of only having seven teams. The first overall seed will receive a bye to the semifinals while seeds two through four will get to select their opponent. Much like the North American Tournament, they will follow the same broadcast schedule.

The takeaway here is that these tournaments will somewhat mirror OWL’s playoffs structure. This helps makes the flow of the tournament something fans are used to and easy to follow. The most interesting part is idea of picking your opponent. The closes parallel to that concept that can be drawn is the LEC playoffs. There they have the top seed select their opponent, which most recently was G2 vs MAD Lions. The beauty of it was that the MAD Lion upset G2 in the matchup. While it may seem like a death sentence for whatever team gets picked by the number one seed, and upset makes for even better streaming.

Prize Structure

Image Courtesy of Overwatch League

In terms of prizes, they made sure every team had incentives. There is not only placement money at stake, but each team gets $5000 dollars per win and the top four teams in each tournament receive up to three wins added to their record, scaling with placement. Spector stated that the extra wins were an idea brought about by the players wanting more incentive for this to affect playoffs.

Good on OWL for finding a good way to do prizes. The wins added to the final record adds an interesting dynamic to the league. It changes tiebreaker math and makes winning these matches even more important to middle of the pack teams. One tournament win could help boost a middle of the pack team into playoff contention.

Future Plans

At the end Spector stated that there are plans for future tournaments, but they will wait before announcing them. They want to make sure it works and that it is an enjoyable product before they commit to it for the summer months. This would be a great idea by the people in charge of OWL. Fans likely have begun to get sick of the LA Valiant playing the Shock and Gladiators on loop and this brings a welcome change to that. Additionally, it can help improve the league’s viewership issues by adding higher stakes and more structure.

Need More?

Are you excited? Tell Christian on Twitter at @TheWiz_SPM.

Featured image courtesy of Overwatch League.

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