Vancouver makes significant roster changes as the Overwatch League returns for season three this weekend
A busy offseason for the Overwatch League (OWL) ends this Saturday, as the Vancouver Titans return to the battlefield and the third season begins.
Throughout the offseason, the league has seen substantial changes. Most significantly: home games. Each team will host games in their own cities (with the exception of China, as those games are cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak).
The Titans were no less busy during the offseason, making several major changes to their roster, including letting go of veteran Bumper and newcomer TiZi, the main tanks of the team, as well as Hooreg and Rapel.
Joining the team for the 2020 season is OWL All-Star Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong, and Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek, both formerly of the Seoul Dynasty. Ryujehong will fill in as a flex support player, while Fissure will take over as main tank in the absence of Bumper.
YouTube has signed a deal with the OWL for exclusive rights to livestream matches (China excluded), another huge change for the league as previously it was available on Twitch, Disney XD, the ESPN app, and the league’s website. Whether this move will increase viewership is yet to be seen, but YouTube has been a source of high-quality, low-lag livestreams and OWL fans can likely expect the same quality.
With the new format of home games (referred to as homestands), each team will hold a minimum of two weekend-long events during the season for a total of 52 homestands. Previous seasons all took place entirely in Los Angeles at the now-closed Blizzard Arena.
The introduction of home games opens a floodgate of issues, including the amount of control Blizzard has over the broadcast, consistency in the venues and practice space for visiting teams, and players facing the new physical and/or mental strain of travel.
As the league begins its third season, the Titans have a lot to live up to. They currently hold the OWL record for longest regular season win streak (19), finished first in the 2019 standings, won the Pacific Division title, and a Stage 1 playoff win against the San Francisco Shock.
The Titans start their season at the Esports Stadium Arlington in Texas to face off against the Los Angeles Gladiators on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and then the Los Angeles Valiant on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. The game can be streamed live exclusively at YouTube.com.
Jonathan is a video game enthusiast and fan of the Overwatch League esports scene. By day, he’s a graphic designer and communications specialist in Burnaby, but at night he plays main tank as Orisa in Overwatch.