Earlier this week, Blizzard released the details on what the 2019 season would shake out to be and there are some significant changes beyond the expansion from 12 teams to 20.
With the second season of the Overwatch League kicking off on February 14, 2019 (also known as Chris’s birthday eve), the 20 teams will now play 28 matches over the course of four stages. This will result in 7 matches per stage, with each stage lasting five-weeks.
Blizzard outlines the shift in the schedule is to allow for more flex-time throughout the season, thus allowing players sufficient breaks and downtime. As there were many indications, and complaints, of mental fatigue during the inaugural season, I imagine this change will be appreciated by most squads.
With an expansion class of eight teams, we see four added to each division in logical fashion. Furthermore, all teams will still play in the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.
This year, the Overwatch League All-Star weekend took place after the London Spitfire lifted the trophy. Next year, there will instead be a mid-season All-Star break, aligning with what most major sports leagues do to showcase their best and brightest.
Stage Finals & Playoffs
Similar to what we saw during the 2018 season, Stage Finals will return in 2019 with the top eight teams from each stage being placed into a seeded playoff bracket to determine a Stage winner. Of note, the two divisional winners will receive the top two seeds, while the remaining two teams will then be seeded by record.
While the Playoffs return, they will receive a subtle shift due to the increased number of teams in the Overwatch League. Both divisional champions will qualify, as will the next four teams with the best record from either division. The four teams with the next best records – seventh through twelfth – will then be required to play-in to the playoffs in a “win and you’re in” match to round out the final eight.