Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer has confirmed the 2020 season of the Overwatch League will be played in the franchises' home cities. Nanzer confirmed this at a panel hosted by ESPN's Mina Kimes at South by Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW) and his confirmation was posted to Twitter by ESPN's Jacob Wolf. Nanzer later tweeted about it himself.
.@natenanzer confirms that the @overwatchleague teams will move to and compete in their home markets in 2020, as reported by @ESPN last summer. #SXSW— Jacob Wolf ✈️ #SXSW (@JacobWolf) March 15, 2019
Teams will play more within their conference than outside of it and will travel on a regional basis to ease jet lag. pic.twitter.com/5YdzUc6Mtv
The @overwatchleague is coming home - and away! Starting in 2020, all Overwatch League teams will be playing in their home cities. We’re super excited to see our original vision brought to life. Thanks to all of our fans for your amazing support!— Nate Nanzer (@natenanzer) March 15, 2019
Jacob Wolf also reported teams will be in charge of venues, ticket sales and associated fees while the league would remain responsible for the broadcast. No video was posted to accompany the additional report.
The implementation of home and away matches could pose a unique set of challenges for organizations in the Overwatch League. Endemic esports organizations have little to no experience hosting home matches at team-owned venues.
Even franchises owned by those with a background in traditional sports may face a new set of problems with the Overwatch League's ambitions. While ownership from the sports world is used to running venues and travelling for matches, the scale of the Overwatch League makes this task different from what they're used to.
There are currently 13 teams in North America, five in Asia and two in Europe. The league's traditional sports owners manage teams that travel across North America; the Overwatch League will have teams travel across the world.
The Sports Business Journal's Ben Fischer reported that there will be no expansion before then. This followed Nate Nanzer's confirmation at SXSW of home and away matches in 2020.
This sets up the 2020 season to be played in 19 cities across the world by 20 teams (two teams are based in Los Angeles). Closing off the league to more expansion at this time is likely a move to give every team competing in the next season time to build the infrastructure necessary to host Overwatch League matches.
Three teams are hosting Overwatch League matches this season. The Dallas Fuel, the Atlanta Reign and the Los Angeles Valiant will all host a weekend of matches in 2019. All other matches of the 2019 season are played at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
These home weekends will give Overwatch League fans the first taste of OWL franchises hosting matches at their own venues. They will also likely serve as test runs for the Overwatch League in how they may implement their 2020 vision.
The first home weekend will be hosted by the Dallas Fuel on April 27 and April 28.
The Overwatch League will finish Stage 1 with matches this Saturday and Sunday.