Overwatch League Live Games Are Back, But Only In China

Yeon-joon “ArK” Hong at the Washington Justice Homestand in 2020.
Yeon-joon “ArK” Hong at the Washington Justice Homestand in 2020.
Photo: Carlton Beener / Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch League Homestands are back, kinda. Today, the Overwatch League announced Homestands—live match events—will be returning during the 2021 season, but only in China.

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“Due to improved health and safety conditions in China, we are excited to announce the planned return of live events to three cities during the 2021 season,” the announcement read.

Live events were to be the cornerstone of the 2020 season, but the plan was shuttered when the covid-19 pandemic halted large public gatherings around the world. Since then, the League has shifted to an online-only schedule and the majority of 2021’s matches will still take place online. However, three Chinese teams will host three of the four season tournament qualifier matches at as yet unannounced live venues.

  • June 4-6: Hangzhou Spark (June Joust)
  • July 9-11: Shanghai Dragons (Summer Showdown)
  • August 7-8: Guangzhou Charge (Countdown Cup)
The very first homestand took place in Dallas during the 2019 season.
The very first homestand took place in Dallas during the 2019 season.
Photo: Carlton Beener / Blizzard Entertainment

Only teams based in China—Hangzhou Spark, Guangzhou Charge, Chengdu Hunters, Shanghai Dragons, and Los Angeles Valiant—will participate in these live matches. If a Chinese-based team is scheduled against any of the Korean-based teams (Seoul Dynasty, New York Excelsior, or Philadelphia Fusion) the Chinese team will play on stage while their opponents connect remotely via the League’s cloud tournament server. Details regarding tickets and venues will be announced by the host teams at a later time.

The resumption of live events only in China is interesting considering at the start of last year’s season, all Homestands were cancelled in China while a handful of Homestand events in North America were allowed to happen before the pandemic shifted play online. It’s also interesting that this news comes shortly after Blizzard laid off a portion of their live-event esports staff a month ago.

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DISCUSSION

What’s the point of naming teams after American cities if they’re going to be based in China and Korea?