Everything You Need to Know About ‘Overwatch’ League 2020

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Overwatch League Grand Finals, 2019 / Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

In the last three years, the Overwatch League (often shortened to OWL) has become a prominent part of the esports scene. According to Variety, the 2019 OWL Grand Finals had 1.12 million viewers worldwide, and the industry is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

This season holds exciting roster changes, transitioning to a best-of-three map series, making history as the first major esports league to adopt a city-based home-and-away model and the opportunity to compete for $5 million in prizes. 2020 is looking more exciting than ever before—and this year is a great time for new fans to jump into the action.

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Hunter Martin/Getty Images

1. How to Play ‘Overwatch’

Overwatch is a team-based, first-person shooter game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. 

Each Overwatch game consists of two teams of six players fighting for control over regions of the map. Each player chooses between 31 different heroes who each hold a unique weapon and ability. The three types of heroes are damage hero, tank hero and support hero.

According to the Overwatch website, “Tank heroes soak damage and shatter fortified positions, like closely-grouped enemies and narrow chokepoints. If you’re a tank, you lead the charge. Damage heroes seek out, engage and obliterate the enemy with wide-ranging tools, abilities and play styles. Fearsome but fragile, these heroes require backup to survive. Support heroes empower their allies by healing, shielding, boosting damage and disabling foes. As a support, you’re the backbone of your team’s survival.”

During the game’s duration, heroes charge up their ultimate ability. The better you play as your hero, the faster your eventual ability charges. These abilities can significantly change the outcome.

Overwatch can be played on Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC. The OWL plays on PC.

To understand Overwatch basics, be sure to check out the video below. [Please note: This video was published in 2016, and there have been new heroes and mechanics added since. However, this video does a great job breaking down the wonderful world of Overwatch.]

2. ‘Overwatch’ League Details for 2020

It’s finally that time again! The OWL 2020 season is kicking off on Feb. 8, 2020, hosted by the New York Excelsior in New York City and by Dallas Fuel in Dallas, TX. The 28-match season will end on Aug. 20, 2020. 

In 2019, the San Francisco Shock dominated their way to victory after defeating the Vancouver Titans 4-0 at the Grand Finals in Philadelphia.

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Hunter Martin/Getty Images

This year, the league is introducing a few fundamental changes.

The OWL is adapting a homestand system, where each team will host at least two or more homestand events in their city throughout the season. This is the first time a significant esports league will feature a city-based, home-and-away model.

In addition to these matches, there is a new mid-season tournament that will coincide with the All-Stars Game after Week 12 of the season.

According to the league’s website, “The mid-season tournament will feature the top four teams in the league: the top team from each conference and the next best two teams by record from either conference. To manage logistical requirements for teams around the world, the teams will qualify based on their record over their first nine matches in the 2020 season. Those teams will play in a single-elimination bracket, with the top seed picking their opening-round opponent.”

Also, the league’s website states, “All-Stars will feature the league’s best players competing in a series of fun game modes. We’re also planning some 1v1 action and another Talent Takedown. Stay tuned for more details. These All-Stars events will have a total prize pool of US $250K, so there’s more than just bragging rights on the line in 2020.” Check out the full schedule here.

3. ‘Overwatch’ League Game Modes

The OWL is played in a best-of-three map series—a new change to the previous best-of-four map series. There are four types of game modes: Control, Escort, Assault and Hybrid. In OWL, the first map is a Control map followed by a rotation of Assault, Escort and Hybrid maps. 

Control is a best-of-three mode where both teams battle for a single objective point. They do this by standing next to the control point. The longer they control that point, the more their team’s percentage will increase. Only one side can capture the objective point at a time, and the first team to 100 percent wins the round. 

Escort is a payload-style map, where both teams take turns escorting a payload to multiple capture points while the defending team fights to prevent it. The speed of the payload will increase as there are more attacking team players are around it. Whichever team pushes the payload farthest wins the map. In case of a tie, both sides will retry with the remaining time from round one.

Assault is where both teams take turns attacking and defending two objective points in a particular order on the map. Objective points are earned by standing next to them by the attacking team, while the defending team fights them off before time runs out. After the attacking team captures the first point, the timer and spawning locations will adjust. Whichever team captures the most points during their turn, wins the map. Similar to Escort, both sides attempt again with the time they have left from the first round in the event of a tie.

Hybrid is a mix of Escort and Assault modes. In this mode, both teams take turns capturing an objective point, unlocking the payload and then pushing the payload to the final capture point. Whichever team captures the most objective points and pushes the payload farthest wins that map. In case of a tie, both teams attempt this again with the time they have left from the first round.

4. Every ‘Overwatch’ League Team

Previously, the OWL was divided into two divisions: The Atlantic and Pacific. Due to the new homestand model (and the traveling that comes along with it), the divisions are now called “conferences,” and each conference is split into two divisions. That means that each weekend, matches will take place in two different locations. 

The Atlantic North is comprised of the Boston Uprising, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Paris Eternal and Toronto Defiant. 

The Atlantic South consists of the Atlanta Reign, Houston Outlaws, Florida Mayhem, Philadelphia Fusion and Washington Justice. 

The Pacific East includes the Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Seoul Dynasty and Shanghai Dragons. 

The Pacific West contains the Dallas Fuel, LA Gladiators, LA Valiant, San Francisco Shock and Vancouver Titans. 

After last year’s San Francisco Shock versus Vancouver Titans OWL Grand Finals, there’s a lot of eyes on the Pacific West right now. Throughout the season, you can keep track of each team’s standings here.

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‘Overwatch’ League

5. ‘Overwatch’ League Top Prizes

The total prize pool is $5 million, according to the league’s website

The midseason tournament includes first place ($500,000), second place ($250,000), third place ($150,000) and fourth place ($150,000). 

The All Stars Game has a prize pool of $250,000. 

The Season Playoffs breaks down to first place ($1.5 million), second place ($800,000), third place ($500,000), fourth place ($300,000), fifth place ($200,000), sixth place ($200,000), seventh place ($100,000) and eighth place ($100,000).

6.. How to Watch the ‘Overwatch’ League

You can keep up with the Overwatch League on YouTube, the league’s website and the OWL apps for Google and Apple products.

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