Blizzard announced the Overwatch League at BlizzCon 2016, but for months afterward, information merely trickled out. The floodgates opened earlier this year, however, and at BlizzCon 2017 the company finally revealed exactly how the first season of the Overwatch League will play out.
We already knew the first season of the Overwatch League would feature 12 teams from around the world: one each from South Korea, the UK, and China, with another nine from the U.S. Each team represents a specific city, much like they would in traditional sports leagues, and will host games in their own arenas during future seasons. (All of the first season's games will be hosted at the new Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.)
Blizzard had also recently revealed changes to its spectator system—a better third-person camera, team-specific cosmetics, and more—to make Overwatch easier to view. That left just one question: How will the Overwatch League's first season be structured? Now we know.
The 12 teams participating in the first season have been split into two groups, Atlantic and Pacific, and they'll play 20 games within their own group and 20 games without. After the season ends, postseason championships will take the top-performing teams from each group and pit them against each other to determine the best team in the entire league. The season itself will be broken up into four different stages:
- Stage 1: January 10—February 10
- Stage 2: February 21—March 24
- Stage 3: April 4—May 5
- Stage 4: May 16—June 16
Three games of four-map sets will be held from Wednesday-Saturday each week. That's a lot of Overwatch, and even if people simply want to watch the games in which their favorite team is competing, the schedule ought to give them something to watch every week. Building viewership during the first season will be crucial to attracting even more teams and big-ticket sponsors like, say, HP and Intel.
Blizzard also revealed for how much money these teams will be competing. The company plans to pay out $500,000 across all four seasons; $1.3 million during the season placement matches; and $1.7 million during the championship playoffs. (These payouts are split between participating teams based on their performance.) Players will receive at least 50% of these winnings, per the Overwatch League's contract requirements.
As if that wasn't enough, Blizzard also teased a so-called All-Star Weekend that will be held in August. The company said it will reveal more about that event in early 2018. You can learn more about the Overwatch League's first season on the official website. There you'll find information about the participating teams and their rosters, the first season's schedule, and more.