The Overwatch League (OWL) is saying “Aloha” for its 2021 season.
After having success during last year’s Grand Finals by sending two teams based in North America to Seoul, South Korea, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the esports league owned and operated by Activision Blizzard decided that the in-person feel of the season’s most important matches (which will still be held online) is too integral to the competition to ignore.
With a pandemic still raging, visa and immigration policies remaining in flux, travel restrictions always changing, OWL — with 20 teams in three continents — knew that putting two teams in the same room would prove impossible.
The desire to find a location that could connect two teams on the same server for the four in-season tournaments (May Melee, June Joust, Summer Showdown, and Countdown Cup) persisted. Executives began scouring the globe for the solution.
Overwatch Hawaii: ‘This silver bullet’
Last season, Overwatch installed in-season tournaments that crowned champions in the two regions of play: one for North America and one in Asia.
“Every single time,” said OWL vice president Jon Spector, “the question fans usually ask is, ‘Well, who’s the best?’”
Now, the top North American team will earn the right to jet-set across the Pacific to the union’s 50th state as the 19-week season starts Friday.
“We know from a competition standpoint we need to get…