Overwatch League 2021 season scheduled to start in spring

Embed from Getty Images

The Overwatch League season has been delayed to spring of 2021, but the league plans to host an offseason tournament series and include OWL activities at BlizzConline in February.

The previous Overwatch League seasons started in January and February, but due to the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the start of the season has been delayed. No specific dates have been provided as the league continues to work through the details with OWL team organizations before announcing the regions and season format.

"Our 2021 season will start in the spring, that gives us a little bit more time to plan versus when we've typically started in February," vice president of Overwatch Esports, Jon Spector said. "It gives us and the teams a little bit more of an opportunity to deal with all of the logistics and be ready to hit 2021 running when the season begins."

Regional tournaments such as May Melee, Summer Showdown and Countdown Cup will return and become the OWL regular season structure. Spector stated that the league is experimenting with different format options before finalizing the competition structure for the 2021 season.

"We're going to be bringing back tournaments in 2021 really similar to what we did in the back half of the 2020 season, but we'll have an opportunity to optimize that," Spector said. "We'll be experimenting and looking at different bracket formats, some different competitive structures generally, and in particular to build the entire season around that tournament construct."

The league plans on using the same two regions of competition similar to the 2020 season. Last year the North America (NA) region consisted of 13 teams, and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) contained the other seven teams. The league is working with several franchises about potential locations for the upcoming season to meet safety, immigration and travel requirements.

"In addition for next year, we also expect that we’ll be using two regions of competition similar to what we did in 2020. That's driven primarily by ongoing safety, immigration, and travel concerns and requirements," Spector said. "We’re still talking to several teams about potential locations for next year, and I expect we’ll have more information to share with fans there in 2021."

The BlizzConline event, scheduled for Feb. 19-20, is a free event for everyone and will feature the Overwatch League in a series called "Shock versus the world." Spector explained the event as a series of Overwatch related challenges that will include the two-time defending champion San Francisco Shock taking on dream teams of other pro players and community figures.

“The event is called ‘Shock versus the world’ and will feature our two-time defending champions the San Francisco Shock taking on dream teams of other pro players, community figures, etc., in a series of Overwatch-related challenges. We think that’s going to be a ton of fun and we can’t wait to show all of you what we have planned there.”

The league also announced plans to coordinate an offseason tournament over the winter but has not released any details about the event.