This news should come as no surprise to fans of the Overwatch League.
As spotted on The Verge, the Overwatch League will no longer hold its in-person playoff matches originally set to go down in Dallas and Los Angeles. In a statement shared on the league’s official Twitter account, it wrote, “Due to significant changes in the environment affecting travel for some teams, we’ve decided to pivot away from originally scheduled live events in Dallas and Los Angeles,” further adding “Instead, postseason competition will return to Hawai’i for playoffs.”
While not directly saying it, the decision was more than likely made due to the highly contagious Delta Variant kicking the United States a** and spreading around the globe, acquiring visas for OWL players to travel back and forth to the States. OWL later confirmed to The Verge that is indeed the case.
Previously, the Overwatch League decided to split into two regions, North America and the Asia Pacific. Regular season play and the playoffs took place within regions, with each region sending their top teams to Korea to compete in an online broadcast LAN grand final.
This year things will be different with OWL introducing “Project Aloha.” The league will introduce cross-regional play that will send qualifying teams from North America to Hawaii instead. The league will be teaming up with the University of Hawaii Manoa to give visiting Overwatch League teams support and facilities to square off against teams in Asia special serves to combat potential latency.
While this sounds like a great solution, there is a slight hiccup, and that is traveling to Hawaii, which has become an issue since people are using the state as a travel destination to escape the pandemic. COVID numbers are currently surging there, and the governor and locals are begging people to stay away. Also, while OWL is going to great lengths to keep the season going and combat latency, there is no way to eliminate latency.
Some Overwatch League players have also sounded off about the decision. Nero hopped on Twitter pointed out the NA teams will be “playing on a massive disadvantage.”
sucks that NA teams will be playing on a massive disadvantage again but not much u can do about this https://t.co/4q1nxGY6lt
— nero (@ow_nero) August 26, 2021
As the world continues to battle COVID-19, esports leagues like OWL, Call of Duty, and League of Legends will have to continue to be creative when it comes to holding seasons during a pandemic that has the world currently opening and closing. But, unlike actual sporting events, esports has the advantage that their matches can be played online and not in person.
Photo: Bernard Smalls / @PhotosByBeanz83