Last week we recapped the inaugural season of the Overwatch League in preparation for the 2019 season, which starts next month.
I mentioned in the beginning of that piece that several changes have been made to the League that will make it a fairly different viewing experience.
The good news is that most of these changes seem to be for the better, adding more to the league than they take away, but here are some of the differences you may notice in this upcoming season.
One of the biggest and immediately noticeable changes is the addition of eight new teams to the roster.
While Australia still misses out on a team of their own, several countries have gained additional teams and others are making their debut.
With three new Chinese teams, we’re bound to see a tonne more talent from this country. China was formidable in the World Cup and the Shanghai Dragons’ track record has been misleading League fans. I’m very certain that we will no longer see a winless League for China.
Canada is debuting two teams of its own but appears to be running entirely Korean line-ups and America has added a few new entries as well.
Perhaps most interesting, though, is Paris bringing in the first European team. Europeans are no slouches when it comes to esports and certainly Overwatch, but they were a bit snubbed in Season 1.
Even the scheduling was lined up terribly for European fans trying to get in on viewing the action, so the addition of Paris Eternal and different time schedules means that it just became even more accessible for a whole continent of Overwatch fans.
Now, about scheduling, you’re going to want to pay a bit more attention to when the teams you want to see are playing this time around.
Games will be played between Friday and Monday and the times can jump around a bit. While mostly pretty palatable for Aussie viewing, there are going to be some seriously early matches, especially for fans on the west coast.
The earliest games start at 5am on the Australian east coast and finish at 9:30am, while on other days they may start as late as 12:30pm and finish at 3:30pm.
They also vary in how many teams will play, so it’s imperative to check the scheduling if you want to tune in.
Just because a match lasted a set amount of time last week does not mean you’re going to be in for the same timing again.
Of course there are good and bad things about this. It may be a bit trickier to work out when you want to watch, but it gives you a way bigger range of opportunity to do so.
It also means folks who were missing out before can now get in on the live action, which is pretty excellent. But perhaps most importantly of all, this looks like it’s better for the players.
Having a larger team pool with this different scheduling means teams aren’t going to be under the same pump they were last season.
It looks like there’s going to be a lot more downtime for players, and some games are even being held in other locations, giving players the chance to travel and fans the chance to watch them.
Unfortunately these all seem to be based in America, but it’s a good start for the second season. Perhaps next year we’ll see some games come here.
As far as how the game plays, there are going to be even more differences this year. Last year we saw the introduction of new characters and patches constantly, and this should continue.
We’ve learnt that the first season will be played on the patch currently available on the Overwatch Public Test Server, but what does this mean?
Armoured characters are going to be a little bit easier to kill on this patch, which means most tanks and even healers like Zenyatta are going to be a bit squishier than we’re used to.
Pair this with the buff to Reaper’s life steal ability and we are going to be seeing a tonne of this masked villain.
Reaper’s ultimate death blossom is also quite a fun one to watch and can potentially wipe an enemy team when lucky enough.
This is kind of neat, as we didn’t really see Reaper at all last season, and while I guess we may be sick of him by the time the first stage is over, at least he’ll make an appearance.
Brigitte saw a nerf to her ultimate on this patch, so we may not see as much of her, or if we do, she’ll be used a bit differently.
Her ultimate now lasts only 30 seconds instead of granting everyone on her team extra armour until they take damage.
Players used to use her ult almost any time, but now we’ll likely see it come out mid-battle or just before a big push instead.
This hero was very prominent during the finals in the Overwatch League, but this change might be enough to knock her out of the meta.
Last is the addition of Ashe. This one is a bit of a wildcard as she’s still pretty powerful from her initial debut.
She has the ability to do pretty devastating headshots relatively easily, which can take out a lot of heroes when followed up with a quick body shot with a quick one-two.
She’s a hit-scan, so she falls easily into the pools of a lot of the star DPS players from the League, and I think we’ll be seeing a fair amount of her.
Her ultimate is also one of the weirdest and possibly strongest out there, though it can be shut down with good teamwork. I’m very curious to see how she’ll play in the League meta.