Overwatch didn't have much of a presence during the BlizzConline Opening Ceremony, but that doesn't mean that Blizzard doesn't have grand plans for its team-based shooter. On the esports side, the Overwatch League is gearing up for Season 4 and it stands to be the biggest one yet. On Saturday, Blizzard unveiled the new Season 4 schedule and also added that this year's prize pool will be worth more than $4 million USD.
The Overwatch League's regular season will feature 20 weekends of competition, split over the course of four tournaments: the May Melee, June Joust, Summer Showdown, and the Countdown Cup. The first three weeks of each quarter will be comprised of qualifiers, while the subsequent two weeks will see the tournaments play out. There's big money on the line in those tournaments, with the winner receiving $100,000 USD.
Each of the four tournament cycles will feature different map pools. The May Melee tournament cycle will include five control maps (Lijiang Tower, Busan, Oasis, Nepal, Ilios), three hybrid maps (King's Row, Blizzard World, Eichenwalde), three escort maps (Dorado, Watchpoint Gibraltar, Havana), and three assualt maps (Hanamura, Volskaya, Temple of Anubis). Map pools for later tournament cycles will be announced over the course of the year. Hero Pools will also be utilized during the June Joust and Countdown Cup cycles, where two damage, one tank, and one support character will all be ineligble for play. Look for more information on the Hero Pools as the June Joust approaches.
The playoffs will be more heated than ever, as the San Francisco Shock look to three-peat. Eight teams will make the playoffs this year and the eventual Overwatch League champions will receive a massive $1.5 million USD payout. The action will kick off on Friday, April 16 when the Houston Outlaws face off against the Dallas Fuel, followed by the defending champion San Francisco Shock clashing with the Los Angeles Gladiators.
The last thing to note is something that should get the attention of the casual Overwatch player. Blizzard notes that Overwatch patches will only be dropped during tournament cycle bye weeks, so if you want an idea of when Overwatch's next balance update is coming, be sure to visit the Overwatch League website and keep track of when those bye weeks are.
Shacknews has been covering BlizzConline all weekend, so be sure to follow us for the latest news and interviews.