While the wait has been lengthy, the Overwatch League has finally announced the start dates and pairings for the 2022 season. With the first matches on May 5, the league will be played on Overwatch 2 and its five-versus-five team format. Additionally, homestand LAN competitions will be making a return in the western region. This is something that fans have sorely missed during the pandemic, and I myself am extremely elated at the prospect of being able to hear the woops and boos of the crowd as Striker pops off on Tracer, or as Lip lands a clean headshot on Widow.
Every team will be playing at least 24 matches during the regular season (a full eight more than last year), which will be made possible by adding an extra week and day for every tournament cycle to “give teams more chances to prove themselves and achieve a more balanced strength of schedule.” Those teams will be the same franchises we all know and love, with none being added or dropped this season. It has been a busy offseason, so be sure to take a look at this year’s rosters to see where your favorite players have moved so that you can make the best prediction for your Pick’em brackets.
I am still mildly concerned that the aforementioned teams have not even touched the Overwatch 2 game. Up until now, they have been forced to scrim on modified Overwatch 1 workshops, and I don’t believe these top-tier players are getting the most authentic experience from them. Without access to the full hero roster or details of changes, it’s virtually impossible for these teams to develop informed strategies and compositions. Once the teams do have access, it will be just a beta of the game, and I fear that we might have a league season that is fraught with bugs, technical difficulties, or severe hero imbalances due to a lack of playtesting.
Regardless, I am thrilled to see concrete updates for the future of the league. I love OWL, and no matter what game it’s played on, I can’t wait to see what my favorite players can make of the shifting meta and the evolving game starting early this May. For more information on specific tournament pairings, times and formats, see the official OWL article.