After almost spending the entirety of its existence playing out of the Burbank studio, the Overwatch League (OWL) will finally be ready to hit the road in full force by 2020.
According to OWL Commissioner Nate Nanzer during an interview at South by Southwest (SXSW), the geolocalization model will be put into effect with teams moving to their home cities, with home and away games scheduled throughout the season.
“In 2020, all teams will be returning to their home markets, and all matches will be played in one of the 19 cities around the world,” said Nanzer.
In 2020, Overwatch League teams will play matches based on scheduled “tours” that will be tailored to accommodate the demands of cross-regional play given the international nature of the league.
The @overwatchleague is coming home - and away! Starting in 2020, all Overwatch League teams will be playing in their home cities. We’re super excited to see our original vision brought to life. Thanks to all of our fans for your amazing support!— Nate Nanzer (@natenanzer) March 15, 2019
While the current system separates teams into two distinct divisions, Pacific and Atlantic, the future of the Overwatch League will feature teams playing home and away games in their respective regions to minimize issues with travel time and burnout. For example, organizations which call the North American west coast home such as the LA Gladiators, SF Shock, and Vancouver Titans will play within the region before going more international as the season advances into later stages.
Overwatch League teams will look to learn from the practices of traditional sports leagues such as ticketing, concessions and local brand building as they have been tasked with establishing a venue that will act as their home base for games played out of their city.
(Robert Paul/Blizzard Entertainment)
Several teams have already laid claim to pre-existing esports stadiums, renovating old theaters and even building their own from scratch to meet the standards set by the Overwatch League ahead of 2020. Given how several teams are operated by and have taken investment from high-profile figures in the world of traditional sports, such as, in the Fusion’s case, our parent company, Comcast Spectacor, there is a wealth of knowledge that will be leveraged to help with the integration of OWL teams into their respective cities.
Before the teams bid the Burbank arena farewell, the Overwatch League is taking the first steps this year towards geolocalization with three “home games” in 2019 located in Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.
The full Overwatch League schedule can be found here.