The OWL had a rough 2020
2020 was a rough year for many people and businesses due to COVID-19. The OWL was going to start doing Homestand Weekends this year, where teams would play at venues in their home cities. This never came to fruition as the league had to shut down all live events early on and move to an online format.
The OWL saw large drops in viewership during the first few weeks of online play. There could be several reasons for this, such as the matches switching from Twitch to YouTube, or the questionable “Hero Pools” that Blizzard attempted.
While the numbers would stop dropping and even out, things didn’t look great at the beginning of the year. It only got worse when multiple big-name players, like Jay “Sinatraa” Won and Corey “Corey” Nigra, quit Overwatch entirely.
Bouncing back with OWL Grand Finals
Despite the tough start to the year, the OWL was able to end strong. Bringing back OWL Tokens was a great step in the right direction, as the tokens give fans an incentive to watch. They also set up several mid-season tournaments. Getting rid of Hero Pools was also a good idea.
All of this set up the stage for the Grand Finals. Along with the 38% year-over-year viewership increase, the final match between the San Francisco Shock and the Seoul Dynasty was the most-watched OWL match ever with over 180k peak concurrent viewers.
Hopefully, for OWL fans, this means that the league will see more growth in the future. Overwatch 2 is also on the horizon, which should bring even more hype to the competitive Overwatch scene. The future looks exciting for fans of the game.