The inaugural season of the Overwatch League did exceptionally well. So it’s no surprise that Blizzard plans to continue. The second season picks up in February 2019. And we already know that this time it’ll be even bigger. With eight new teams, that brings the total up to twenty for the second outing. And after a recent update on the official Overwatch League website, we now know exactly which division each team will play for, as well as some other new things to expect.
The new Atlanta, Paris, Toronto, and Washington D.C teams play under the Atlantic Division banner. Meanwhile, the Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Vancouver teams play in the Pacific Division. As of the time of this update, none of the new Overwatch League teams have been named. Nor have any roster pick-ups been announced. There are, however, rumblings of some roster additions, based on players from the previous season. For example, there are rumors that Shadowburn – formerly of the Philadelphia Fusion – will join Team Paris.
Another new addition to the season is “Flex Time,” as the update puts it. The inaugural season of the Overwatch League saw teams play ten games a stage for a whopping 40-game season. The new season will only see teams play seven games a stage for a total of 28. Obviously, this is meant to address the burnout problem that many pro players cited, during the previous season. Former Dallas Fuel flex player, Seagull, noted burnout as one of his main reasons for retiring when the season was over. It gives the teams more breaks so burning out becomes less of an issue. And it also creates less risk of burning out the viewer. To put it bluntly, the first season of the Overwatch League was a lot to take in. There were so many games that many fans found it difficult to watch everything. So this is a good solution.
The next alteration was to how the Stage Finals work. Now, rather than four teams, the finals of each stage become an 8-team seeded bracket. The top team from each division takes the #1 and #2 seed. Though what this means wasn’t elaborated upon. It’s possible that it means each of the Stage Finals will play like a mini Season Playoff run. Another thing to note is that there are only three Stage Finals, now, as the Finals at the end of stage 4 are being replaced. What by? The “Playoff Play-Ins.”
According to the update, teams going to the playoffs are decided in almost the exact same way. The Divisional champs take the top two seeds. Then the next four teams fill the spots regardless of division. But a new addition is made in the form of a play-in tournament at the end of Stage 4. This tournament rewards two of the teams, ranked from seventh to twelfth in the standings, with spots in the playoffs. This gives many teams a fighting chance at the glory, towards the end, to make a triumphant comeback. Teams that excel later in the season despite struggling earlier would prosper under this new setup. The Dallas Fuel, for example, might have gone quite far, had this rule been in effect for the first season of the Overwatch League.
All of these are exciting new changes that will hopefully make the Overwatch League much more engaging to watch. More updates are bound to come soon. There are still team brands and rosters to announce. And by the time the Overwatch League starts back up, we’ll likely have a new character right around the corner. It’s an exciting time to be an Overwatch fan.