We've come a long way from last November, when the Overwatch League was first announced at BlizzCon 2016.
Now that we know all 12 inaugural-season franchises and the official player signing window has closed, it's time to take an in-depth look at the season format and the path to the first Overwatch League championship.
The Regular Season
After the preseason event on December 6–9, where all 12 teams will play exhibition matches live at the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, the regular season begins on January 10, 2018. The season is divided into four stages of five weeks each, with about a 10-day break before a new stage begins. During every week of a stage, official matches will be played on Wednesdays through Saturdays at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles.
- Stage 1: January 10—February 10
- Stage 2: February 21—March 24
- Stage 3: April 4—May 5
- Stage 4: May 16—June 16
The final Saturday of each stage will feature two title matches, where the top three teams by standings during that stage will have a seeded playoff for $125,000 in total performance bonuses (this means that teams who are out of postseason contention in the latter part of the season can still win significant prizes) and bragging rights as the stage winner. While teams' wins and losses during the stage affect their full-season record and postseason seeding, the title matches at the end of a stage do not count for these purposes. Teams will also earn performance bonuses at the end of the regular season based on standings and full-season record.
Divisions and Match Play
Now, a word about the teams. The 12 teams of the Overwatch League are grouped into two divisions: the Pacific Division and the Atlantic Division.
- Pacific Division: Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, Shanghai Dragons
- Atlantic Division: Boston Uprising, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion
During the regular season, each team will play 40 games: 20 within its division and 20 cross-division. These divisions come into play for postseason seeding, as the top team in each division at the end of the regular season qualifies for the postseason and gets an automatic bye in the championship playoffs.
We'd also like to share some details about the schedule and rules for playing official league matches during the regular season.
- Three matches will be played each day from Wednesday-Saturday every week
- All matches will consist of four-map sets
- The map pool for the entire season will be announced before the season begins
In addition, although all matches will take place at the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, there will still be a "home" and "away" team for every match. In the future, once the teams have set up venues in their home cities, we will have actual home and away games.
When Stage 4 finishes up in June, six teams will move on to the postseason for a run at the inaugural season championship and the Overwatch League trophy. Two of these teams will be the top finishers in each division, as mentioned. The others will be the top four teams by full-season record (regardless of division). Playoffs will begin on July 11 and continue until July 22, when we will have our final two teams. The grand final will take place on July 26–28, awarding the trophy and a USD $1 million bonus to the champion team. The venue(s) for the inaugural-season playoffs and grand final will be announced in the months to come.
If that seems like the end of the Overwatch League festivities in the inaugural season, you'd be mistaken. Our final hurrah for the year will be the All-Star Weekend in August, and we'll announce more details about the event in 2018.
The Bonus Breakdown
Finally, we've announced that the total amount of performance bonuses up for grabs in the inaugural season is USD $3.5 million (and players receive at least 50 percent of these bonuses on top of their salary). Here's how that number breaks down:
Stage Title Match bonuses:
- First place: USD $100,000
- Second place: USD $25,000
- Total: USD $500,000 over four stages
Regular Season placement bonuses:
- First place: USD $300,000
- Second place: USD $200,000
- Third and fourth place: USD $150,000
- Fifth and sixth place: USD $100,000
- Seventh and eighth place: USD $75,000
- Ninth and tenth place: USD $50,000
- Eleventh and twelfth place: USD $25,000
- Total: USD $1.3 million
Championship playoffs placement bonuses:
- World Champion: USD $1 million
- Runner-up: USD $400,000
- Third and fourth place: USD $100,000
- Fifth and sixth place: USD $50,000
- Total: USD $1.7 million
We are amped up to get the season going, and we hope you are too! In the meantime, we invite you to explore the new site, including the news feed, player list, team pages, and more. We'll be rolling out more features in the future, including stats tools, so keep checking back. You can also join the conversation online with the official Overwatch League Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram accounts.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Unless otherwise explicitly stated, all information, including forward-looking information, are current as of November 4, 2017 only. Blizzard and Activision Blizzard undertake no duty to update or revise any forward-looking information contained herein. For more detailed information, please refer to Activision Blizzard’s reports and filings with the SEC.