The 2020 Overwatch League
The League will also not be moving to the home and away model we were promised for the 2020 season. Nate Nanzer, the former commissioner, announced that the league was committing to the home and away model for the 2020 season. Now, with Pete Vlastelica at the helm, the league has decided that fully committing would be ineffective. The league has instead stated that they were “…optimizing for big, sold-out crowds.” This comes across as saying if they can’t sell out a big venue, it’s not worth it to go.
This is troubling as most markets, even in traditional sports, can’t always sell out their large venues. To think that a smaller market of devoted fans would be shunned because they don’t sell out massive venues. The Blizzard Arena can’t sell out most of the time either. This comes across as a bit of a slap in the face. It is more troubling for the lower performing teams who have had to work extra hard to engage their fan bases.
But that’s not the only reason given. The other is money. Arguing that a stepping stone season on their way to the home and away format is cost-effective is likely true given their large venue visions. But consider that most of these teams could have likely sustained 1,000 to 1,500 seat venues regularly. That’s plenty of people, you can run lots of merch sales that way, not to mention still run fan activation events around town while games are going on. With the teams renting facilities, all they needed to do was rent a smaller venue to be more cost-effective. It feels a lot like the league traded in one bridge season for another, and not in the best way.
What About the Schedule?
This is the real kicker, these teams need to secure venues for 2 to 5 weekends, that the League needs to be able to schedule around. TheGameHaus reported that Dallas and Washington are already committed to holding their maximum of 5. It was also reported by the Washington Post that Guangzhou will be hosting the maximum of 5. In the ESPN publication, Vlastelica is discussing how they don’t know how many more large events the markets can handle after their first 2. Total Homestand slots are limited. There will be 52 events, with each team hosting 2. Each division will also be granted another 3 according to the Overwatch League website. The schedule is supposed to be released next month, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.