The Overwatch League announced to the community that they would have the playoffs and the Grand Finals in a live LAN environment. It was said that the ticket information about the events would be available in August. Right now it is already late August with no word about tickets for the Overwatch League live event.
On the other hand, the Call of Duty League (CDL) has already had one live event for the Stage 5 Major and has their Championship Weekend coming up on August 19 – 22 at the LA Galen Center, which is about a month before the Overwatch League’s Grand Finals. Timing-wise, the CDL is testing the waters to see how the live events are unfolding and the repercussions that come with it. But what factors, that the CDL live event data will show, will have on the final decisions of the Overwatch League when it comes to their in-person events?
Stage 5 Major:
The Stage 5 CDL Major was the first main event that allowed fans to watch the LAN event live. There were strict precautions in place that the teams and fans knew about. Still, issues appeared at the Major. Though the LAN was controlled by strict rules and regulations, the hotel and outside of the LAN environment were not. If the teams were at a hotel where the fans were also at, there in itself had a good possibility of cross-contamination. There were also some pro players that did go out into the crowd to take pictures and give signatures. As CDL, as is Overwatch, is a team game, if one player contracts or is in contact with COVID-19 there is a good chance that then their teammates could also get infected.
So I was one of the players that tested positive for covid after the major. Felt like I was pretty responsible the whole event. Been pretty sick the last few days but starting to feel better. Focusing on recovery for anyone wondering where I’ve been 👊
— OpTic Scump (@scump) August 7, 2021
The event was considered a big success for both the pros and the fans were excited to get back to the live events. There can be a large difference in performance from online, LAN with no crowd, and LAN with fans which can impact a team’s performance. Major names such as Seth ‘Scump’ Abner who is on the Chicago Optic team along with his AR partner Dylan ‘Envoy’ Hannon both tested positive for COVID-19 after the event. Though no one can be sure how many people, fans and pros, contracted COVID -19 from the event people did contract it from the Stage 5 Major.
Even if a player was A-symptomatic they would still test positive. The professional players need to test negative to be allowed to play. This could put a big asterisk next to the winner of the season 2 CDL Championship. If a key player tests positive and isn’t allowed to play then the team is going to have to utilize subs, which isn’t ideal for synergy, strategies, and gameplay. Scump talked on his stream about how he and Envoy are still testing positive though their symptoms had subsided. 1.2 Million dollars are on the line for these teams. A positive test could ruin that all.
There is no doubt that the Overwatch League is watching very closely to what is happening in the CDL when it comes to the live events. They will probably have the same requirements of the CDL are requiring of both pros and fans. The CDL announced that they would be asking for proof of vaccination or a negative PCR/Antigen test within 72 hours of the day of attendance. Masks would also be mandatory.
— Call of Duty League (@CODLeague) August 11, 2021
One differing variable between the CDL and the OWL is the amount of time that is between the events. The CDL Stage 5 Major was from July 29th to August 1st. The Championship starts August 19 – 22, which gave a little over two weeks for the pros, if they fell ill, to recuperate.
For the Overwatch League, the pros do not have that opportunity. The Texas playoff event is from September 16 to the 19th. It is then less than a week until the Grand Final. If there is any sickness in the two Grand Final teams then that could cause some issues for the compositions. There are many teams that only have one player in a position. For the Seoul Dynasty, they only have two support players, one main and one flex, and if one of them were to test positive that would put them in a bad position. This isn’t going to have optimum matches.
After such a short Overwatch League Season, will the risk be taken will the possibility of a lackluster final as a possible consequence? This season has already been put under scrutiny with only 16 matches compared to the inaugural season 40 matches per team, and the lower 28 games in 2019, and 24 matches in 2020. It seems there are longer off-seasons will fewer matches, which is already worrying. But to have a Grand Finals with multiple subs, which is the team composition that didn’t get them to this point, or worse having to cancel the match because there are not enough players.
Test Subject: CDL?
If the CDL Championship produces more cases, though hopefully it won’t, what impact will that have on the Overwatch League? A variable that is less prevalent in the CDL is that two teams from the APAC region will be coming over to play on LAN. What would cause Blizzard to decide to pull the plug on the in-person events for the Overwatch League? Is the reason fans have not heard more about tickets is that the powers to be are waiting to see how the CDL Championships go with COVID on the rise again. These are all questions that the community is talking about and are waiting to see an announcement answering to clear up some of the unknown components that are still lingering.