If anyone watched the Chinese Overwatch League and not NA Overwatch League, they would never know how strong the Torb gameplay was. It is the same for any community member who didn’t stay up and watch the Chinese Overwatch League, but tuned into the NA games. They wouldn’t have seen the two Soldiers, all the Sombra Reapers and the diversity of main tanks.
After this weekend, it is clear that each region is going to have a very different meta from each other. How is this region lock possibly going to impact hero pools and playoffs going forward?
|Asian Servers||North American Servers|
With the teams split 8:12, the NA metas could have more playtime, depending on the schedule. That would then skew how many tickets of each hero would receive. It would be a nerf to the NA teams versus the teams in Asia as their top picks would be more likely to be banned. This would then serve to only regulate NA teams from their comfort picks and would impact the Asian server teams less.
Could this be a good thing? Yes. This would make NA teams possibly more flexible on different heroes. It would also add a note of ambiguity into the league. As seen in the LA Valiant’s match against the San Francisco Shock in Week 8, they upset predictions in winning over the Season 2 champions. With a change in the hero pools in the rematch in Week 9, it was the Shock who overtook the LA Valiant.
The other option is that each region inspires the other. As there is a big time difference, teams watching VODs of the other region could be inspired to use different metas. This has been seen pre-Overwatch league when China enjoyed playing Doomfist. European Overwatch enjoyed tank-heavy hero compositions that then turned into the GOAT meta of 3-3.
The two different metas that were seen in Week 9 brings the question if the Overwatch League is region locked for the time how will the two regions grow independently from each other? When the two regions meet, which will be the strongest? As of now, more of the stronger teams are in the Asian servers. Will harder competition during the regular season prepare that side more than strong favorites crushing the weaker opponents in NA?
As of the time of writing, there is no available information about how the Overwatch League is going to balance the rankings. Will this imbalance which teams will get into playoffs? There are some matchups that fans are eager to see and will not be able to because of ping issues. One such match is the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans.
One such fix could be playoffs for each region, then having the two winning teams meet up and play for the grand finale. There would still be questions of where they would play so that ping would not be an issue. This would allow Blizzard to treat each region separately but also keep it cohesive overall for the League. The drawback is if there are stronger teams in one region than the other, that could have some teams may not make the playoffs from one region when they would have in the other region. There is also a number issue of 8 to 12 teams. The Florida Mayhem could possibly go back to Korea as they have an all Korean team. That would then bring the ratio of 9:11.
However, Blizzard decides to change playoffs there is sure to be an uproar. It is a tricky situation as there is no control or time period in which the pandemic will continue on. It has been made apparent that the teams and the overall League are putting safety and health above all else.
COVID-19’s causation of the Region Lock creates a unique situation for the Overwatch League. It will be interesting to see how the two regions interact with each other in the coming weeks. It remains to be seen how Blizzard and the Overwatch League will deal with hero pools and playoffs now that each region is developing their own styles and metas. Will individual team play styles reign supreme or will the region locked teams become like two different leagues? We’ll find out soon enough.
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