Year of the Ox Event

We gained a plethora of new items to celebrate the Lunar New Year! Blizzard continued its tradition of going all out on the skins for this event. If you haven’t been able to get in-game to see them, you can see all of the new skins over on our Twitter account. I think my favorite this year is Echo’s Kkachi skin.

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Also new this year is the Bounty Hunter Deathmatch mode. In Bounty Hunter, the goal is to be the first to reach 4000 points. To get points, the first person to get a kill in the match gets a bounty put on them. They glow red and can be seen through walls. Whoever gets the killing blow on them becomes the new bounty. As the bounty, any kills you get are worth 300 points. Any kills you get while you are not the bounty is worth 100.

I’m pleased to report that I have a 100% win rate in the new mode, ranking #1 in my first and only game.

As for patch notes, there were no hero balance changes, but the Replay Viewer got an update, allowing for even slower, 0.10x motion, and a handful of hero bug fixes were patched up.

Overwatch 2 Release

In their Q4 Investor Call, Activision Blizzard revealed that it is unlikely we will get Overwatch 2 in 2021. While disappointing, this coincides with a comment made by Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan during the Kanezaka Developer Update where he said, “The game has a ways to go, just to temper expectations.”

While I am definitely in the camp of preferring Blizzard’s, “When it’s ready,” philosophy, I do worry about how this will affect the community if Overwatch 1 doesn’t get much for new content for yet another year. We did see the events all gain some improvements to help touch them up, and new systems such as Open Queue and more consistent balance updates were pushed out, but we also haven’t had a new map for competitive in almost 2 years (Havana - May of 2019) and it’s almost been a year since Echo (April 2020).

Cyberpunk 2077 also showed the importance of games being released when ready.

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2021 Path to Pro Update

The Contenders program released an update with what the 2021 seasons will look like and changes this year.

  • The season will begin in March with Contenders Trials.
  • There will be two seasons, just like 2020.
  • The Contenders program in South America has been ended after lower performance than desired.
  • Commercialization restrictions on Overwatch esports will be loosened for South America and the Pacific region, hoping to allow more third-party organizations to hold events for talent.
  • LAN events such as the Showdown events and Gauntlet have been suspended due to the pandemic.
  • Open Division will now use a points-based system for advancement.

As for the Open Division, teams will now be able to list times they are available to play, and then that team can accept offers from other teams to play. They set up a match and report their results to the Gamebattles website. Teams will not be able to see who their opponents will be before accepting or declining, only that a team is available to play. The opponents will not be revealed until the match is accepted.

The point system is intended to “highlight who has performed consistently” in matches and tournaments. Future tournaments may require a minimum number of points to participate. There is a weekly cap of 50 points, and for teams that win their first match, a minimum of four matches are needed to reach their cap.

For more rules, you can join the Open Division Discord. (Link pulled from the official reddit post above.)

Miscellaneous

  • In celebration of Blizzard’s 30th anniversary, new content bundles were released this week that give out items across Blizzard’s major franchises. The $40 and $60 (USD) both include the Raynhardt legendary skin, where Reinhardt is replaced by Jim Raynor from Starcraft. These bundles are NOT priced for those players who only follow one game, so really think about it before spending $40 only for this skin. You can see the checklist about what’s in each bundle on the Blizzard Gear Store.
  • Shortly after our press time last week, the Los Angeles Valiant released all of their players and most of their staff, claiming COVID-related visa issues. Previously the Valiant were already known to be playing from Asia, much like the Philadelphia Fusion and NYXL this season. The team received criticism for their announcement because they did not actually announce who had been forced off the team, and the community had to find out on their own, for doing this so soon after bringing a few of them onto the team, and for doing this so close to the end of the season.