The news article by InvenGlobal about homestands made waves in the community. Though Blizzard never said they are completely removing homestands that were what a lot of fans took from the announcement that Activision put out about reconstructing their operations. There was an update as Blizzard sent a statement that said live events are still a part of the Overwatch League and the CDL. They plan to get back to them as soon as it is safe.
That confirmed the suspicion that there would likely to see be live events for major tournaments. But a part of Season 3 that fans were excited about was the concept of homestands. This scare that homestands would be gone highlighted a major issue. The discussion around homestands brought out how much this would’ve been a huge slap in the face to international fans, because of everything they have already dealt with when it comes to the Overwatch League in the past seasons.
There are already so many components of the Overwatch League that are geared in favor of North America than the other regions. This would’ve been just another aspect that is going to be taken away from them before even getting a chance to experience it. Luckily, it seems that the Blizzard does plan to bring them back in some way once it is safe, but there is already so much inequality when it comes to the North American fans and the International fans.
International fans have had the short side of the stick for a long time. This started out with the inaugural season of the league where the arena was located in Burbank, California. This gave Californian residents and in general Americans easier access to go watch the games live than fans living abroad. This continued in Season 2, even with the integration of more Chinese and European teams to the league. It was a centralized location that was easy to have.
There was massive excitement with the announcement of the localization of the matches in Season 3. This meant that all teams would have the ability to host a homestand. This would be the first opportunity for international fans to watch their team in person without having to fly across the world. Unfortunately. that was cut short because of COVID-19 restrictions. That wasn’t anyone’s fault, but again pushed back the timeline until these fans could see their team play.
Times of Matches
The times of the matches were also a bone to pick with the Overwatch League. In Europe, the times would be from late night to early morning. This is the opposite of most people’s sleep schedules. In Asia, the times were also inconvenient for fans as the time zones didn’t align. With Season 3, the APAC and NA matches made it easier for the EU region, but it was still not efficient if one had work or school. The match times though improved for fans in Asia for the APAC matches, though the NA matches were still on at difficult times for them to watch.
The merchandise issues have been talked about a lot. The non-North American stores wouldn’t have as many items to buy as the North American ones. It was that though there was a Paris and London team it was hard to get personalized jerseys. On top of that, the North American stores would have more sales/free shipping events than the other stores. If an international fan wanted to buy merchandise from the North American stores the shipping would be astronomical for them. Though, the new store in Season 3 didn’t even give that option.
There is also the arena exclusive merchandise that teams would have on their ‘team of the day’ day. That would be for fans that were at the arena. Many of these items were never for sale, and huge fans would not be able to get it unless they could spend the money to go to the arena or had someone pick it up for them. The international fans lost out on a lot in considerations of merchandise that was readily available to them.
Some of the new team-run stores in North America don’t have international shipping or the shipping is extremely high. Just because a team is based in NA doesn’t mean that there aren’t fans internationally for the team Even as the teams gain control of their own merchandise there is still an inequality in how easily available it is to international fans.
Importance of the Homestands
Thankfully, it seems that international fans will have their day with a homestand experience. Who knows whether the noise fans made after the original article came out influences anyone at Blizzard to make this statement. It is reassuring that there was a quick response. If the community known anything, it is that things such as the structure of the League can change fast if they want to. Hopefully, this season will prioritize the integration of international fans when it comes to the Overwatch League experience.
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