During a special edition of Watchpoint during Blizzcon 2019, the Overwatch League unveiled a few updates to the league’s format for the 2020 season. First, there will be a midseason tournament during All-Star Weekend. The biggest update, however, comes to the structure of individual matches. In the past, OWL matches lasted four maps – one each of Control, Escort, Hybrid and Assault. Next season, all games will be first to three map victories. There are a couple of big ramifications of this change.
First, matches can now end after three maps, provided one team wins all three. In previous seasons, teams would play out the fourth map no matter what, leading to many series where the winning team was already decided as teams played out the final map just for the map differential. This change will help one-sided series move a bit quicker and help speed up OWL games in general.
Second, matches will now continue until one team wins three maps. Because draws are possible in Overwatch, that means series could extend to six or seven maps at times. After all four map types have been played, teams will play additional Control maps until one team reaches three map wins. Since Control also starts every series, two additional Control maps will be added to the map pool, for a total of five. All other map types will continue to have three options in the pool. The league also stated that Push, the new map type announced Friday at Blizzcon, will be added when it makes its way into the game.
The other big news from Saturday’s panel was the addition of a midseason tournament to the OWL calendar. With the move to the Homestand model in 2020, the league decided to do away with Stages and the Stage Playoff system. In its place, the midseason tournament will feature the four teams vying for the title during All-Star Weekend. The two division leaders will be joined by two wild cards in the tournament bracket. For fans of the Stage Playoffs, the midseason tournament will be a chance to see the best teams in the league meet to decide the top dog halfway through the OWL year.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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