Blizzardâ€™s hero shooter Overwatch became so popular that a League had to be created to allow the best players in the world to compete against each other in multiple stages. The first season of the Overwatch League began on January 10 and it is unique because unlike other eSports leagues, their 12 teams represent regions of the world so that fans can root for their city, just like in professional sports.
The Overwatch League, which is becoming one of the most high-profile eSports leagues in the world, has 12 teams from 11 cities around the world, going up against each other for 20 weeks, followed by a playoff round with the top teams and a grand finale.
All the matches for the first season are being held at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.
Each week of the season has twelve matches (each team plays twice from Wednesday through Saturday, so there are 40 matches per team each season), making it significantly longer than other eSports leagues, like the North America League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS), which lasts just nine weeks per season.
Overwatch League teams are divided into two divisions:
Los Angeles Gladiators
Los Angeles Valiant
San Francisco Shock
New York Excelsior
Each match has four competitive maps selected by the Overwatch League Office. The team that prevails in more maps will win the match. All four maps have to be played, regardless of the outcome of the first three maps, as the win/loss differential of all four maps counts towards the ranking of teams if there are ties in the standings.
If thereâ€™s a 2-2 tie after all four maps are played, a tiebreaker has to take place. The tiebreaker map counts towards the ranking of teams in the event of ties in the standings.
An Overwatch League match includes 3-minute breaks between maps and an 8-minute halftime after the second map.
The Overwatch League formed a partnership with Twitch to broadcast all the matches of the first two seasons. Twitch is the exclusive third-party broadcaster of league in all countries except China. The streams are available in English, Korean and French and they also have broadcasts for the playoffs and championship match, not just for the regular season.
According to Blizzard, the format of the Overwatch League stage finals will change for stage three and four.
Stage three begins on April 4, with teams fighting for four spots in the stage playoffs, instead of three. Now the stage finals will be played in a bracket format, letting the first seed choose their opponent in the first round from the other three teams in the bracket.
This change also means that the top seed will not get a bye into the championship match. The first seed will choose an opponent as soon as all four teams are confirmed. As for tiebreakers and the prize money, they will not change in the stage finals qualification process. First place receives $100,000 and second place $25,000.
The New York Excelsior prevailed in the second stage after an exciting reverse sweep against the Philadelphia Fusion. The Fusion had overcome London Spitfire in the semifinal playoff match. Excelsior won the stage two title after losing it against Spitfire in the first stage, so Excelsior earned the $100,000 prize while the Fusion got $25,000.
Heritage Sports offers plenty of lines, so check them out regularly. The third stage of the Overwatch League starts on April 4 at 7:00 PM ET with the Shanghai Dragons vs. Dallas Fuel clash and the title matches will be played on May 6.