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Jan 21, 2019
Jan 21, 2019

Overwatch League - Season 2 overview

What is the Overwatch League Season 2?

Overwatch League Season 2 format changes

What is the Overwatch League prize pool?

The map pool for the Overwatch League - Season 2 (Stages)

Overwatch League - Season 2 overview

The Overwatch League is back for 2019. It’s time to get excited once more as this season offers more games, longer stages and an expansion of the team rosters. What’s in store for us this season? Has the new format allowed for more flexibility amongst the top teams? Read on to find out.

The Overwatch League (OWL) is Blizzard’s own competitive format. They host the OWL out of the purpose-built Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles, California, which has a capacity of 450 people.

OWL Season 2 is the second incarnation of the OWL, although there have been other events that Blizzard have hosted, such as the Overwatch World Cup.

The Overwatch League Season 2 starts on the 14 February 2019 with Stage 1 of the competition.

Overwatch League - Season 2 preseason

There are various pre-season events which include analysis and previews of the existing teams as well as our first look at the new teams that have come to league. In addition to this Blizzard have been posting Team Previews weekly, which can found here.

What has changed coming into the Overwatch League - Season 2?

This year brings the return of all of the teams from Season 1. Whilst they have returned, the Overwatch League itself has expanded drastically. The first thing is the number of teams that have entered the competition. Expanding from the original 12 teams, Blizzard have increased this number to 20.

But the fun doesn’t stop there, as with the increase in the number of teams, also comes the increase in the number of matches in total from the regular season, leaping from 12 teams playing 40 matches each, to 20 teams playing 28 matches.

While the regular season has increased, it’s important to keep in mind that there are also changes to the original stage “Title Matches”. Blizzard have changed the title matches to “Playoff” matches.

The two divisions of Atlantic and Pacific still remain, however each division now has an additional four teams.

Overwatch League - Season 2 format changes

We touched upon the Overwatch League Season 2 format changes previously; same amount of stages, more teams, and more overall games.

With the introduction of the expansion comes the increased number of teams, and to compensate for the addition of these new teams Blizzard have introduced a change of format.

Preseason

It’s currently January and it seems like there isn’t going to be a preseason this time around. This could be a way of getting the players to play fewer games and avoid burning out. This would also explain the All-Star timing placement, more on that below.

Stages

The stages remain relatively untouched from the previous year. The increased amount of teams has required Blizzard to do a fair bit of re-structuring to the amount of games being played by each team. The concern before was that players were becoming burned out. Stage 1 – 4 will still remain, except now teams will be playing a maximum of 28 scheduled matches, down from the previous season. The map pool for these stages (and Playoffs) has also had a revamp.

Blizzard have dropped title matches in favour of Playoff's, consisting of eight teams that have qualify throughout the various Stages

Keep in mind, there are longer breaks in-between each stage: Stages 1 to 2 have a two week break but stages 2 to 3 have an entire month between them. This is to accommodate the Overwatch All Star Weekend. 

It is worth noting that Stage 4 does not have a Playoff stage for Season 2. Additionally, Blizzard have opted to drop Titles Matches in favour of the Stage Playoffs, which has an increased number of teams.

Stage Playoffs (Finals)

Stage Playoffs (hosted in the Blizzard Arena) will be held after the completion of Stage 1 -  3 with the qualifiers being placed into their Stage Playoffs (qualifiers from Stage 1 go into the Stage 1 Playoffs etc.).

Previously, Blizzard had Stage Title Matches, where the top three teams from each Stage would qualify. These three teams would then play in a knockout (single elimination) bracket, where top seed would already be in the Grand Final. This appears to have been dropped now, in favour of the Stage Playoffs.

The Overwatch League prize pool has also seen an increase this year. Season 1 was $3,500,000, which has increased to $5,000,000 overall for Season 2.

Out of the 20 teams, eight teams will qualify into the Playoffs. The team in first place of each their respective divisions (Atlanta and Pacific) will automatically qualify for the Playoffs as seed one and two (regardless of their position in the overall competition). Six additional teams will be added to the Playoffs to complete the round of eight (Ro8) bracket.

Additionally, much like its latter stage, the maps have also changed, along with the map and the running order. However, the Playoffs map pool is reflective of that which is played in the non-Playoff stages.

Within the Stage Playoffs, instead of promoting three teams, they now take the top eight teams through to the Stage Playoffs - this is played in a best of five (Bo5) for the quarter-finals, and a Bo7 for the semi-finals and Grand Final.

Overwatch League - All Star Weekend

As mentioned previously, the placement of the All Star Weekend has changed from Season 1. Having originally been placed at the end of the Overwatch League Season (after the Playoffs), it has now been placed between Stage 2 and 3.

Not much more is known about it, outside of Blizzard teasing that it could be the “All-Star Summer Vacation”.

Overwatch League – Prize Pool

Much like the increase in teams, the Overwatch League prize pool has also been increased this year. The total prize pool for the Overwatch League – Season 1 was $3,500,000. This was divided by the following:

Overwatch League - Season 1 winners

Event

Prize

Winners

Overwatch League – Season 1 Playoffs

$1,700,000
First place, $1,000,000

London Spitfire

Overwatch League – Season 1 Regular Season

$1,300,000

First place, $300,000

New York Excelsior

Overwatch League – Season 1 Stage 1

£125,000

New York Excelsior

Overwatch League – Season 1 Stage 2

£125,000

New York Excelsior

Overwatch League – Season 1 Stage 3

£125,000

Boston Uprising

Overwatch League – Season 1 Stage 4

£125,000

Los Angeles Gladiators

Blizzard have upped the ante once more, adding an additional $1,500,000 to this year’s total. This time around, more prize money is being allocated for each Stage, adding an additional $375,000 on to the existing amount. Additionally, the Playoffs have seen an increase of $1,800,000 to the prize pool. The full break down of the prize pools can be found below.

Overwatch League - Season 2 prize pool

Event

Prize

Overwatch League – Season 2 Playoffs

Total: $3,500,000

First place: $1,100,000

Runner-up: $600,000

3rd - 4th: $50,000

5th - 8th: $25,000

Overwatch League – Season 2 Regular Season

N/A

Overwatch League – Season 2 Stage 1 Playoffs

Total: $500,000
First Place: $200,000

Runner-up: $100,000

3rd - 4th : $50,000

5th - 8th : $25,000

Overwatch League – Season 2 Stage 2 Playoffs

$500,000

Overwatch League – Season 2 Stage 3 Playoffs

$500,000

Overwatch League – Season 2 Stage 4 Playoffs

N/A*

Total Prize:

$5,000,000

*Stage 4 doesn’t have Playoffs and therefore has no prize pool.

Overwatch League – Teams

With Season 1 we saw the introduction of 12 teams into the Overwatch League (these are listed below) and they are all returning to this year’ instalment of Overwatch League.

Below is a list of the Overwatch Season 1 teams.

Overwatch League - Season 1 teams

Season 1 - Regular Season Teams

Season 1 - Atlantic Division

Season 1 - Pacific Division

Seoul Dynasty

New York Excelsior

Seoul Dynasty

London Spitfire

London Spitfire

Los Angeles Gladiators

New York Excelsior

Philadelphia Fusion

Los Angeles Valiant

Dallas Fuel

Boston Uprising

San Francisco Shock

Los Angeles Valiant

Houston Outlaws

Dallas Fuel

Florida Mayhem

Florida Mayhem

Shanghai Dragons

Houston Outlaws

Los Angeles Gladiators

Shanghai Dragons

San Francisco Shock

Boston Uprising

Philadelphia Fusion

Overwatch League - Season 2 expansion teams

Below is a list of all the new teams for the Overwatch League - Season 2

Overwatch League - Season 2 expansion teams

Season 2 / 2019 - Regular Season Teams

Season 2 / 2019 - Atlantic Division

Season 2 / 2019 - Pacific Division

Atlanta Reign

Atlanta Reign

Chengdu Hunters

Paris Eternal

Paris Eternal

Guangzhou Charge

Toronto Defiant

Toronto Defiant

Hangzhou Spark

Washington Justice

Washington Justice

Vancouver Titans

Chengdu Hunters

Guangzhou Charge

Hangzhou Spark

Vancouver Titans

Philadelphia Fusion

Overwatch League - Season 2 competitive map pool

To nobody’s surprise, Blizzard have introduced a new competitive map pool for season 2 across multiple different game modes. At the moment only Stage 1 has been confirmed, with the rest of the stages to follow.

The format for the map pool remains relatively unchanged for this season. Blizzard have increased the number of maps being used. Previously at eight maps, this has now increased to 12, but teams will continue to play in the same four-map format (Bo5).

It is worth noting that a best-of-five (Bo5) series begins with four maps but if the score is tied at 2:2, a fifth decider map will be played in the Control map type.

Overwatch League - Stage 1 (and Playoffs) map pool

Overwatch League - Stage 1 (and Playoff) map pool

Map Type

Map 1

Map 2

Map 3

Map 1: Control

Busan

Ilios

Nepal

Map 2: Hybrid

Hollywood

King’s Row

Numbani

Map 3: Assault

Temple of Anubis

Horizon Lunar Colony

Volskaya Industries

Map 4: Escort

Rialto

Dorado

Route 66

Overwatch League – What to look out for

In terms of teams, not a lot has changed too much on the roster side. There hasn’t been an insurmountable gap between Season 1 and 2 - when you think about the last tournament at the end of Season 1 being August, and with season 2 starting in February, it has allowed for teams to make any critical changes or adjustments.

Season 1 saw the introduction of 12 teams playing 40 matches. With the introduction of Season 2, we see 20 teams playing 28 matches

Whilst All-Stars wasn’t considered to be a mainstream event with every team, it was an event that split players apart from their roster and had them play with and against each other. This is on top of the Overwatch World Cup where players would represent their own country - which also leads to players being separated from their main roster, but it does allow newer players to rise in the rankings.

It’s important to remember that teams are playing fewer games, which means they will have more time to recover, practice and discuss strategies in between each Stage.

Keep in mind that a lot more development hours are being poured into the Overwatch League as a whole with the Blizzard Arena now up and running in full force. With the new expansion from 12 teams to 20 teams and the additional prize pool, it seems Blizzard are looking to keep the competitive Overwatch scene alive and kicking.

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About the author

Stuart Bridges

Stuart has been actively involved in competitive gaming and the evolution of eSports for the last 10 years. Along the way, he’s had the opportunity to work on many different projects, such as organising online tournaments and offline events. He now shares his expert insight by writing articles for Pinnacle.

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