‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
The format of the new Overwatch League was announced. There have been multiple changes that I think are generally better for the league. To recap quickly, there are now 20 teams in the League and they will play 28 games each during the round robin stage. There are now only three stage finas, instead of the four. Finally, there will be a play-in for the 7th/8th spots in the final playoffs of the season.
Overall, I think most of the changes are good. I don’t like round robin formats, so having less games per team could make it less of a slog, even if there are more total games because of the amount of teams involved. Additionally, removing the stage playoff for the 4th stage makes sense as it was too close to the actual playoffs so teams just didn’t look like they took it as seriously.
Now, I’ll go over my criticisms of the format. The first thing that stands out to me is the lack of information surrounding the stage finals. Last season they didn’t matter at all for getting into the playoffs, has that changed this season? I assume it hasn’t and if that’s the case, I wonder if teams will try to tone back how much effort they put into those given how much burnout has been an issue in the league so far.
The biggest issue I have and still have is the use of divisions in the league and having the #1 of each division seeded into the stage finals. It would make sense to use them if the league was actually stratified by location so it made sense to group up teams by location so that it is easier to do the home/away games that Blizzard originally proposed.
As it stands now though, the system only creates problems. The divisions can be completely uneven in terms of how good the respective teams are. We already saw that last season as the Pacific Division was weaker than the Atlantic Division. After all, competitive integrity demands that all teams have an equal shot under equal conditions of winning.
In reality that isn’t quite possible as patches can change or the schedule can give you stronger or weaker matchups that favor you at those different times. Those are unavoidable, whereas the division aspect seems to be completely avoidable.
Overall though, I think it is an improvement on last season.