Blizzard officially announced Overwatch League franchises will play home-and-away games for the 2020 season, becoming to first esports league to do so.
OWL commissioner Nate Nanzer confirmed the decision at South by Southwest Festival on Friday; he called the move “an important step for esports”.
The updated league will operate in a similar way to American Major League sports with teams split into Atlantic and Pacific conferences. Teams will play most of their games against franchises from their region, but there will also be inter-conference play.
OWL has introduced home games for the 2019 season with “homestand weekend series” where one franchise hosts matches for the whole league at a local venue. Dallas Fuel will host the first homestand weekend at the 6,275-seater Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas on April 27-28.
Current plans indicate that away teams will go on road trips to minimise the distance players will be expected to travel. Nanzer said: “we think we’ve come up with a scheduling model that really allows for the global vision to be realised while minimising the impact of back and forth of travel on the teams and players.”
Blizzard has previously expressed a desire to expand from 20 teams to 28, but Nanzer confirmed that it is unlikely there will be any expansion before the 2020 season. “It’s safe to assume that in 2020 we will launch with the 20 teams we have right now,” he said.
The decision means that top-level Overwatch will come to the UK in 2020 as the country is home to London Spitfire, the current reigning OWL champions.