Blizzard has announced that for the 2020 season of Overwatch League, teams will be playing home and away games, similar to a traditional sports league. This has been a goal of the league for some time now, but Blizzard recently gave some of the specifics of how the setup would work.
Overwatch League has technically had city-based teams since it was founded in 2016, with teams like Seoul Dynasty and San Francisco Shock representing different cities around the world. Of course, not all the members of the teams were from the cities they were representing, which is not unusual. The players on San Francisco Shock may not be from San Francisco, but then again, the San Francisco 49ers aren’t all native Californians either. However, since all Overwatch League games were played in the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California, there was not much tying the league teams to the cities they represented.
Blizzard’s answer to this problem is what it calls a “homestead” model. Every team will host several matches in their respective cities, with some as few as two days worth of matches and others as many as five. Blizzard will still broadcast the games as usual, but every team will have their own arena to host the other teams in.
Blizzard already began experimenting with this system earlier this year. Three “homestead weekends” were planned for the 2019 season. The first two weekends took place in Dallas and Atlanta, respectively, and the third will take place in Los Angeles on the weekend of August 24. LA Valiant will be hosting this weekend at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles. Blizzard has said that the homestead weekends that have happened already have received positive feedback and that it is looking forward to transitioning the league into this new model.
It is unclear how the change will affect Overwatch League players. Overwatch League is global and thus has teams around the world, so the homestead model will likely increase travel time by a significant amount. The league will be divided into Pacific and Atlantic conferences, which have divisions of their own and should reduce long transcontinental flights for part of the season. However, eventually, the winners of each division will have to play each other. Considered how players have had to cope with overwork and burnout, we have to hope that the change doesn’t affect their gameplay or mental health.