The Overwatch League is almost upon us, which means there's a lot of information to take in. Esports has been steadily rising in popularity due to games like League of Legends and DOTA 2, but Blizzard is set to evolve the medium through the start of its annual Overwatch competitive league.
Taking a page from other American sports leagues like the NBA and NFL, the Overwatch League is creating a brand that people will come to know and proudly be a part of in the years to come. With numerous teams to become a fan of and a steady schedule for most of the year, there is a lot to take in regarding the league. We've got everything you need to know from how to watch to when it starts to the teams and more. Let's get started.
When Does the Overwatch League Start?
Though it's already had a robust preseason that began last month, the inaugural season of the Overwatch League begins this week on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018. That day kicks off the first week of games, beginning with San Francisco Shock versus Los Angeles Variant at 4 pm PST (7 pm EST, 12 am GMT).
Overwatch League Teams
The league is comprised of 12 different teams, divided up into two divisions: Atlantic and Pacific. Each divisions has six teams, mostly centered around their location in respect to the east and west coasts of the United States. The notable exceptions to this are the three international teams from England, China, and South Korea. For a complete breakdown of the rosters, which teams are the ones to watch and more, check out this complete teams guide.
- Boston Uprising
- Florida Mayhem
- Houston Outlaws
- London Spitfire
- New York Excelsior
- Philadelphia Fusion
- Dallas Fuel
- Los Angeles Gladiators
- Los Angeles Valiant
- San Francisco Shock
- Seoul Dynasty
- Shanghai Dragons
How Does the Overwatch League Work?
The general structure of the league is pretty similar to other sports leagues. Each team will have two matches against two different opponents every single week for five weeks for a total of 10 matches per stage. At the end of each stage, there will be a title match for each division. The prize pool for those two matches are larger than most with stage one specifically having a prize pool of $125,000.
This same cycle of two matches per week for five weeks will continue for a total of four stages, meaning each team will participate in a total of 40 matches in the 20 weeks-long first season of the Overwatch League. The season will conclude with playoffs that take place in the summer between July 11th and July 28th. To participate in playoffs, a team must either win their division or be among the top six performing teams in the league.
Overwatch League Skins
Each team has its own mascot, logo, and jerseys specific to their colors and brand. What's cool is that Blizzard is letting players of the game purchase skins for their favorite teams, so they can represent them online. All 12 teams has their own skin coming for all 26 playable characters in Overwatch. For more on when and how to get these skins, check out this guide.
How to Watch Overwatch League?
It's pretty easy to watch the matches every week live, but it requires you to get the Overwatch League app. You can also watch previous matches through video-on-demand (including the preseason that's already up) on the official website. There will also be the option to spectate the matches live from within the game itself.
Overwatch League App
Speaking of the app, the Overwatch League app is your best friend for everything regarding matches, rosters, stats, and more. It will alert you to matches when they go live, so you don't miss a moment of the action. Also included is all of the information you could ever want on every team in the league. There are also exclusive interviews and videos to enjoy exclusively through the Overwatch League app, so it's a must-have for fans.
What You Can Do
Besides supporting your favorite team every week, there are a couple of ways that you can get directly involved. As mentioned previously, there are skins for each team in the league so make sure to grab one and represent your team throughout the entire 20 weeks of the inaugural season.
Also, like you would expect from the NFL, there is a sort of "fantasy football" for the Overwatch League. There is an unofficial fantasy league you can join complete with prizes and the ability to create your own personal league with friends. For more info on that, check this out.
The Future of the Overwatch League: Season 2 and Beyond
The inaugural season of the Overwatch League concludes with the playoffs this summer, but that isn't the end at all. Instead, it's just the beginning of what Blizzard has planned for its major foray into the esports medium. After the conclusion of the season, there is already a casual "all-stars game" planned for sometime in August.
Of course, you can expect a season two a year from now that will bring with it improvements and new additions. Supposedly, a 13th team based in Chicago was originally planned to join the first season, but the league needed an even number in order for it to work. As such, you can absolutely expect that team and more to join in season two and beyond.
In fact, Blizzard has huge international plans for the Overwatch League. As you can tell, there are already three international teams from across the world in this first season, but that's just the beginning. Blizzard plans to create similar leagues in South America, Europe, southeast Asia, and Asia Pacific in the near future.