Esports leagues are on a break due to the pandemic, however, the Overwatch League (OWL) has continued its season.
If you are an invested esports betting enthusiast then you will be excited to know that the OWL has made many changes for this season in the format, schedule and postseason. As the Overwatch League is only 2 seasons old, they are still trying out the kinks, which is why the new changes are brought forth.
While we expect some of the seasons will stick in the long run, there are some we think will be tossed aside next season. Here are the newest changes in the 3rd season of the Overwatch League you can see.
- Hero Pool
The addition of hero pools is arguably the most controversial and biggest decision of the 3rd OWL season. The change was already implemented during the last season and its controversy arises from the fact that it bans certain characters every week.
Hero pools have been improvised with so many changes already, that it is very less likely to progress to live past this season. That being said, it is still the part of the game so teams can expect to lose 1 or 2 important heroes every week. This can decide a game even before it starts.
This season of OWL started with 2 different hero pools:
One was for the professional players
Another for regular players of the game who participate
The availability of two pools made things a lot more confusing then they should be. This is why later in the season it was decided to have 1 hero pool for all players of the game.
Here’s how the hero pool works:
Each Sunday, after all the matches of the week, are done, a new hero pool is chosen.
The following day the new hero pool gets into effect.
The hero pool is decided based on the play rates for each hero across high-level competitive players. Every week 1 tank, 1 support hero and 2 damage are banned from the play.
Heroes who have a higher play rate as compared to the competitive players are at a higher risk of getting banned for the week. To keep things fair, it is decided not to ban two heroes in two weeks in a row.
Each player of the Overwatch League has a signature hero known as a “main” or “maining.” With their main character, a player might not be as effective.
If you are into esports betting and OWL is your choice, we recommend keeping a close eye on hero pools as they can heavily impact a team’s chance to win.
- First to 3 Maps, Wins the Match
One of the biggest flaws that the first two OWL seasons suffered from was how long it took for the matches to finish. Long matches and repeated commercials were a soar eye for watchers, but this is changed in season 3.
For this season the first team to reach 3 maps is the winner.
Also, the 1st and 5th maps are control maps, which can’t be tied.
In between these maps, there will be a combination of game models that will be played. No-control maps can be tied which will lead to both teams earning no points. If a match goes beyond the 5th map, all the maps will be control maps until one of the team wins.
After every two matches, teams are allowed to take a break to strategize and think about rooster changes. While some might argue that the break might take away the momentum from a team on a hot steak, it is important for spectators to stretch their legs, hence the break.
- Playoffs and the Play-in Tournament
The first two seasons had no playoffs, but the third season is streamlined to have playoffs. However, when placing esports bets on the OWL make sure you know that there are no longer stages or staged playoffs in the third season which is one of the biggest changes.
With no stages in the third place there no breaks between stages as well. This implies that teams will be played more games in a shorter span. While this might lead to burnt-out players but for the league high-intensity, week-to-week competitions are great.
For a team to reach the playoffs it must have a good win record as well as be in the top 6. From each conference, the best team automatically progresses into the playoffs at the end of the season as the top-seeded selection.
While the teams that place from the 7th through the 12th at the end of the season have a chance to redeem themselves in the play-in tournament. The top two play-in teams join the playoffs for the 7th and the 8th spot.
As there is double-elimination bracket in the playoffs, losing one match is not the end for the team. If a team loses, it is placed in the loser’s bracket and has a chance to emerge victoriously.
- Mid-Season Tournament
The first two seasons held playoffs after every stage with a mid-season playoff. In the third season, all the stages and stage playoffs but the mid-season tournament is kept. However, due to the pandemic, the tournament was cancelled.
To make up for the lost mid-season tournament, there are two tournaments announced-one for North America and one for Asia. For these tournaments, the teams qualify based on their performance during the first three weeks of May.
There will be no hero pools in the tournament and the higher-seeded teams will pick the first map while the losing teams get to pick the next map.
In the North American tournament, the teams finishing 12th and 13th will play each other to qualify for the knock out round. After the knockout, the tournament will be based on a bracket system where the top-3 teams get to select their opponents.
In the Asian tournament, all the playing teams will quality and there is no knockout round.
The midseason tournament is a great time to bet as there will be many more exciting changes in the mix.
- YouTube not Twitch
A rather controversial change for the 3rd season is that the league chose to change its streaming partner. Before this season, OWL matches were streamed live on Twitch where players signed in with their blizzard accounts.
For some reasons, OWL decided to end their partnership with Twitch and switched to YouTube instead.
But, as history tells us, YouTube is not the best platform for live streaming OWL.
The Cheez-It ads running in the middle of the games and the inability to obtain special League tokens while watching OWL matches on YouTube are some of the problems that make YouTube inferior to Twitch for streaming games.
Some viewers have also complained about the streaming quality of the matches. It seems like YouTube is not prepared enough to host OWL like Twitch and people are not happy about the new streaming partner the league has picked.
- Conferences and Divisions
Conferences have been the part of the OWL, the 3rd season has also introducing divisions. The 20 teams in the OWL will be split into 4 divisions. The North and South Divisions are in the Atlantic Conference, and the East and West Divisions are in the Pacific Conference.
With the addition of divisions, there is a likelihood of rivalries at a higher level, that always works for ratings. Fans are motivated by good rivalry. The OWL is giving fans what they want with the divisions as teams will not only play opponents in the same division, other divisions and conferences.
All the Asian teams are grouped in the eastern division which is better due to vastly different time zones. Splitting the teams by time zone is a smarter move to assure fans that they are able to watch games from the home base during normal hours.
- Homestand Weekends
The Overwatch League is one of the first esports leagues to create teams with home bases. All teams are from somewhere and the 3rd OWL season is ensuring that each team plays at least one game at home.
Some of the teams are scheduled to have multiple home games, technically termed as homestand weekends but the pandemic rained the parade. For now, all the homestand events across the world are scrapped, but we hope this change will be there in the next season as well.
The homestand events are particularly fun to join as they have the favourites teams, action-packed gaming and fans bursting with excitement, all of which makes the atmosphere electric.
We expect homestand events to become the norm.
The Overwatch League has introduced many changes but of which the changes made to the match format and the playoffs are welcomed by the fans, but other decisions are criticized as well.
But as esports league is still in nascent form, it is expected that there will be more changes made as the league evolves. The OWL has kept things interesting where other leagues fail to do say as they are stale and rarely change.
If you are into esports betting and want to wager on an OWL team, it is important that you understand how the league operates. The changes we have listed above are a few, but you need to stay up-to-date on all Overwatch news.