Overwatch League 2022 will continue on Overwatch 2, despite no official release
Overwatch League 2022 Season will continue with the early build of Overwatch 2, according to Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo per his conversation with Blizzard spokesperson.
“Usually, publisher-backed esports are ads for games people can play. This will be one for a game they can’t (yet),” Totilo said.
Earlier this year, an announcement was released by Blizzard regarding the upcoming Overwatch League season. Starting in April 2022, the league will be played on an early build of Overwatch, with a new featured 5v5 competitive format.
“So starting in the Spring, the next season of the Overwatch League will give the community a fantastic view into the development team’s planned direction for the franchise before experiencing the content for themselves,” Blizzard said during the talk with Inven Global.
Some were elated to hear the news, hoping that the game would be released soon after. The release of Overwatch 2 was first announced at BlizzCon in 2019 alongside Diablo IV, and it was highly anticipated to launch in 2022.
However, that hope was soon crushed as the developer delayed both games’ releases until at least 2023, possibly even longer.
“While I’m not prepared to discuss dates with you here today, I want to quash the rumor of a 2023 release date as being somehow ‘official’,” commented Overwatch community manager Andy Belford on the Blizzard forums, after the Activision Blizzard earnings call on Tuesday.
Mixed feelings over the delay
Many are upset with this decision, as Blizzard had been using the game as an excuse for not releasing new maps or characters in the original Overwatch for the past two years.
Blizzard’s decision to continue the league using an early build has received mixed responses. Some thought they should halt the league, although it would affect teams that have built their roster around the 5v5 format. However, if they do persist, the players might be unable to practice the same game they compete in outside of the league.
Many pro players agreed on how difficult it would be to practice on 5v5 Overwatch 2 during their scrims. Meanwhile, they are forced to practice on the 6v6 standard Overwatch outside scrims.
“OWL players not being able to practice the same game they compete in outside of scrims and if you enjoy watching OWL playing an entirely different version of a game is gonna feel bad,” wrote Logix, who’s currently playing for Toronto Defiant in Overwatch League.
Blizzard said they understand that the league is in a lose-lose situation. The delay already has impacted the league and the state of the game in general negatively, and switching back to standard Overwatch for next season might worsen the situation and lessen the hype of the new game.
Hence, they decided to carry on with the initial plans, despite the unwelcome consequences for players and viewers. Until the game is released, the public and players have to make do with the live version of the original Overwatch, alongside the professional version of Overwatch 2.
Blizzard also saw leadership changes following the delay as Overwatch’s original director left the company in April. In September, its executive director left the project as well.