Our long national nightmare has come to an end. We made it through the dark night of the soul and made it to a new day of joy. The sun shines bright on us esports fans as the 2020 season of Overwatch League begins!
This season of Overwatch League, the third ever has some major changes to the format. For one thing, instead of all the games going down in one place, each team now has its own arena and will have a mix of home and away games, although the format is a little weird. Each week will see the teams split between two locations, which means that the hometown arenas these teams have paid for will be dark for the vast majority of the season, right? It seems like a weird waste of cash, but who knows.
Overall, this change is major for a number of reasons. For Overwatch itself, it should help build followings in the hometowns, although having more home games would probably help some more. For the players, it means a lot more traveling, including trips around the world. Going from Boston one week to Seol the next could lead to some jetlag issues. But, if every team is dealing with jetlag then it kind of evens everything out, right?
The opening week of the season was split between the home of the New York Excelsior at the Hammerstein Ballroom (which is a great place to see some great bands) and Esports Stadium Arlington, where the Dallas Fuel play. It’s great to see the Dallas Fuel keeping the greatest part of sports alive by actually playing in a different city or state than their name suggests. They join such teams as the Los Angeles Chargers, who play in Inglewood, or the New York Jets and New York Giants, both of whom play in New Jersey.
But I digress… This weekend saw ten teams watch some overs to start the new season off with a bang. The Pacific and Atlantic winners of last season – the Vancouver Titans and the New York Excelsior respectively – both started strong with two wins each. On the Atlantic side, the Titans took on both Los Angeles teams and beat them, taking down the Gladiators 3-2 and the Valiant 3-0. Meanwhile, the Dallas Fuel, who was nice enough to host everyone, had a rough weekend, losing to both the Valiant (3-1) and the San Francisco Shock (3-1).
On the Pacific side of the Overwatch world, the New York Excelsior used the home team advantage to their… well, advantage, I guess, taking down the London Spitfire 3-1 and Boston Uprising 3-0. The Spitfire also lost to Paris Eternal 3-0, but it wasn’t all good time for Paris as they lost to Toronto Defiant 3-1.
The games were fantastic, but the real question everyone had was how the new arenas would work out. From the sounds of things, it all worked out pretty well. ESPN snagged up the thoughts of a few attendees to this past weekend’s games and got the lowdown on not only the matches, but what the crowds were like, which foods were best at each arena, and how the venues themselves were. ESPN gave the food advantage to New York, and I have to say they aren’t being fair there. Rand, who covered the food for New York, didn’t eat any of the food at the venue! Come on, ESPN! How can you give the ‘W’ to New York when the food wasn’t even tasted?!
On the venue side, Dallas clearly won. Holding other tournaments on the side, including Smash Bros. and a high school tournament, is a great idea. Bringing in a variety of esports fans will help every game rise in popularity, and we’re all for that.
With the first week in the books, it looks like Overwatch League 2020 is off to a great start. Next week, the teams will head to Philadelphia and Shanghai and we’ll be eagerly waiting to see what goes down.