When the Overwatch League shifted to on-line play final season, it meant that the dream of a international esports league — one with groups unfold throughout three continents — would have to wait. It additionally meant that followers wouldn’t give you the option to see the finest groups compete in opposition to one another. The league break up up into two divisions, with some groups based mostly in Asia and others in North America. Due to points round latency, these areas by no means competed in opposition to one another till the Grand Finals, which came about in Korea and featured a few of the finest matches of the season.
So when the league begin pondering of the way to make the 2021 season higher, determining a method get groups from Seoul and Shanghai to face off in opposition to San Francisco and New York was paramount. The answer was Hawaii.
In 2021, OWL will function a month-to-month event construction, the place groups from every area will compete regionally, earlier than the finest transfer on to face off in opposition to one another. The plan is to have groups from North America fly to Hawaii the place they may compete in opposition to squads based mostly in China and Korea. In accordance to Jon Spector, head of the Overwatch League, Hawaii was chosen for a few causes. It meant that gamers based mostly in the US would have already got the essential visas to journey, and the league additionally felt snug about the island from a well being and security perspective. “Hawaii emerged as one thing of a silver bullet,” he tells The Verge.
Crucially, it’s additionally a lot nearer to Asia, lowering latency issues. Spector says that the league studied maps of undersea cables seeking a perfect location, and it additionally developed a minimal latency software to be sure that groups shall be competing on a fair taking part in discipline. Spector says that the intention is to have matches operating at 90 milliseconds. “That’s properly inside the bounds, from what our professional gamers have instructed us,” he explains, “so that they’re going to have a nice expertise competing.”
The setup does create some points, although. Specifically that groups from North America shall be compelled to take care of journey and taking part in in a new area, whereas Asian groups received’t. The league is doing what it might probably to decrease these points: every workforce in Hawaii may have their very own area, and OWL is additionally holding patches the similar for every event, doubtlessly lowering apply time. However he additionally factors to the San Francisco Shock profitable Grand Finals for instance of why it ought to work.
“We have already got, at the largest second of the 2020 season, a case research of groups touring, performing in that atmosphere at the highest stage, and profitable all of it regardless of arguably the [Seoul] Dynasty and Shanghai having a little bit of a bonus in that last 4 final 12 months,” he says.
The plan is additionally versatile. Spector says that if there’s one factor he realized operating an esports league throughout a pandemic, it’s that issues change. If journey to Hawaii turns into unfeasible, the league will revert to regional tournaments as an alternative. “One in every of the largest classes that I’ve internalized over the final 12 months has been for each single plan we’ve obtained, there has to be a plan B, a plan C, a plan D,” Spector says.
Ultimately, although, OWL is anticipated to get again to in-person occasions; a main pitch for the league is having groups internet hosting matches of their native markets. . And whereas it’s too early to say when related occasions would possibly occur elsewhere in the world, the final objective is to get again to these in-person matches. “My fervent hope is that issues get higher, and it begins to develop into protected to convey followers again to reside occasions,” Spector says. “I hope we’ll give you the option to do a few of that this 12 months.”