Multiplayer first-person shooter
Overwatch has grown into one of the most popular and competitive
eSports games since its release in May 2016. In fact, it even has its own league, the aptly titled
Overwatch League, that concluded its second season on August 25, 2019. It was dominated by the Vancouver Titans, who led the league both in terms of top players and in their win-loss record. And
Overwatch League Season 3 is being organized as of this writing (September 2019); it’s scheduled to launch February 8, 2020, and fans are clamoring to learn more.
With that in mind, here's a recap of exactly what happened in the second season and all the changes we can expect to see when the third season arrives.
Overwatch League Season 2 recap
Major wins by the Vancouver Titans and San Francisco Shock
The Overwatch League’s second season significantly expanded on the first season by adding 8 additional teams, which brought the total up to 20 teams. Of the 8 new teams, two - the Atlanta Reign and the Washington Justice - were American. The others were French (1), Chinese (3), and Canadian (2). This included the Vancouver Titans, who won the Stage 1 championships against the San Francisco Shock in a 4-3 victory.
However, Jay “sinatraa” Won, a 19-year-old player on the San Francisco Shock, was voted the MVP of Season 2 for his achievements playing as Zarya. The San Francisco Shock also went on to win the Stage 2 championships, which is the first of two losers brackets that the Overwatch League uses to extend its season.
This set the stage for the Shock to face off yet again with the Titans in the Overwatch League 2019 Grand Finals. This time, MVP Jay "sinatraa" Won selected Doomfist and single-handedly dominated the Titans in a 4-0 victory. This led the Shock to dominate the Grand Finals, although they placed just third overall in the rankings behind both the Titans and the New York Excelsior.
Disappointment from the New York Excelsior
Another notable team within Season 2 was the New York Excelsior. They went undefeated in the regular season and were largely thought to be in contention with the Vancouver Titans to win the championship.
However, they disappointed their fans by losing in the Stage 1 quarterfinals to the 7-seed Seoul Dynasty in a 1-3 crushing loss. They went on to lose to their biggest rivals, the Vancouver Titans, in the Stage 2 semifinals. After that, they suffered a loss to the Shanghai Dragons in the Stage 3 quarterfinals, the second of the two losers brackets.
No more additional Overwatch League teams
Although there were discussions surrounding expanding the number of teams in Season 3, nothing is set to change. This has been confirmed by Nate Naze, the former Commissioner of the Overwatch League, as well as Jacob Wolf, an eSports writer that covers Overwatch for ESPN .
What to expect from Overwatch League Season 3
There are two major changes coming in Season 3: 1) Changing of the home-away system and 2) The removal of GOATS. Both serve to shake things up and make league play more interesting and dynamic to watch. It will also help breathe fresh life into a league that many viewers feel has stagnated a bit due to how the game is played.
1. Expanded “homestand” initiative
In the first two seasons, most games were played at the 350-seat Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California. This is unlike traditional sports leagues, where each team has their own stadium. To address this, Overwatch development team Blizzard added three “homestand weeks” in three cities where the Overwatch League has teams: Allen, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; and Los Angeles, California. None of these venues regularly hosted the teams, however, and that is one area where Season 3 will significantly change the format.
The homestand week events generated significant interest for locals, who flocked to see their home teams play in their respective cities. This also generated a lot of ticket sales for events that are otherwise mostly viewed on the streaming platform Twitch. As a result, Season 3 of the Overwatch League has expanded homestand weeks to include all home and away games.
This change means that players will need to relocate to the cities that their teams play out of. Given that some professionals have quit the game due to burnout, this move may have the unintended effect of causing more stress since many of them are not native to the cities they play for .
2. Removing GOATs from Overwatch League Season 3
Many players and viewers feel that the GOATs composition has caused significant stagnation within the game, especially for professional eSports athletes . The team composition is named after a North American team, the GOATs, that played in the Overwatch Contenders Trials in 2018.
But what is GOATS exactly? This refers to a team that consists of three tanks (Reinhardt, D.Va, and Zarya), and three support (Lúcio, Zenyatta, and Brigitte), but some map-specific swaps can occur. Since it was introduced, the composition has become a staple of Overwatch because it's almost unkillable by any other combination, and largely relies on players building ultimate charge to get kills.
The main problem is that many Overwatch fans do not like this composition because it leads to less flashy gameplay. Plus, it renders most of the game's 30-character roster useless, particularly the damage-dealing characters like Genji, Tracer, and Widowmaker.
To combat the rise of GOATs, Season 3 is limiting team compositions to two tanks, two supports, and two damage dealers. This will make for improved diversity when it comes to team compositions, which should then make the matches and overall competitive scene much more interesting to play and watch.
What are the Overwatch League Season 3 Teams?
Although the teams in Season 3 are exactly the same as the previous season, the league has introduced the Atlantic and Pacific conferences to facilitate home and away games. To limit the difficulties of travel for the players, the Overwatch League has subdivided the Atlantic conference into the North and South divisions, and the Pacific conference into the East and West divisions.
The Atlantic North consists of teams in the northeastern United States, western Europe, and eastern Canada, while the Atlantic South has teams located in the southern United States. In contrast, the Pacific East features teams located in China and South Korea, while the Pacific West mostly features teams from California with one from Texas.
Here is the full roster of teams for Season 3.
London Spitfire Although
New York Excelsior
Los Angeles Valiant
Los Angeles Gladiators
San Francisco Shock
What is the Overwatch League Season 3 schedule?
Season 3 of the Overwatch League will begin on February 8, 2020. Because it will be played entirely at local venues instead of the Blizzard arena, matches will be staggered at local times of 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. The same will occur on the foloowing day, with matches taking place in both Dallas and New York. Games will then run twice a week, back-to-back, for the next 27 weeks, until August 8 and 9, 2020. Once the regular season is complete, then the playoffs will begin.
For more comprehensive information, ESPN has the
entire Overwatch League schedule. Keep an eye on the schedule closer to the start date so you can find out the
Overwatch League playoff dates for sSeason 3.
How much do Overwatch League players make?
In the 2019 season, each player earned a minimum salary of $50,000. They are also provided with housing during the season, as well as healthcare and contributions to a retirement plan. All in all, there are approximately 170 players who contract with the Overwatch League.
In addition, winning teams receive hefty bonuses, and star players can earn over $200,000 annually. The Overwatch League has not yet announced its prize pool for the third season, but for Season 2 it gave away $3 million of prize money, including $1.1 million to the championship team, the Vancouver Titans.
With Season 3 ready to launch February 8, 2020, many fans are eagerly anticipating the action. The new changes will situate the teams within their respective home cities, and they’ll eliminate the GOATs team composition. This will take the next Overwatch League season in a bold new direction to keep everything fresh and intriguing.
Overall, the goal is to attract more viewers, and more money, into the Overwatch League. Blizzard has attracted investments in teams from such notable figures as Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and owner of the New England Patriots football team, which means the league is poised to grow and innovate as it continues to increase in popularity.
About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.