Though the 2019 Overwatch League season is only halfway over, eyes are already set on the postseason. Blizzard announced this week that Philadelphia will host this years Grand Finals.
The “City of Brotherly Love” Hosts the Overwatch League
Philadelphia Fusion fans might be feeling a little down after their team failed to make the Stage 2 playoffs. However, they still have much to be happy about, as Blizzard just announced Philadelphia will host the 2019 Overwatch Grand Finals. The finals will take place on September, 29th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. This arena also hosts the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philadelphia is an interesting choice for a host city. After all, the Fusion was last years runner ups, losing to the London Spitfire in the first ever Grand Finals. If the Fusion were able to make it back to the Grand Finals, they would play in front of a home crowd. However, this seems to be unlikely, considering the success of both the old powerhouses of New York and London, as well as the new juggernauts of the Vancouver Titans. Regardless, Fusion fans can still hope to see their team make it back into the Grand Finals for the hometown fans.
Even Bigger Than Last Year
Last year’s Grand Finals were epic. Taking place in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the 2018 Grand Finals were the perfect cap to the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. Blizzard looks to build on that success and make the 2019 Grand Finals even bigger. This can be seen in a number of ways. The playoff schedule is the most obvious change. The 2019 playoffs include 12 teams, up from 8 last season. Last year, the Philadelphia Fusion barely qualified for playoffs. However, they were able to make an improbable run through the bracket to a second place finish. By increasing the number of teams, Blizzard ensures that other underdog teams have a chance to upset some of the more dominant teams, making the action even that much more exciting.
The amount of teams taking part in the 2019 playoffs is not the only change coming to the Grand Finals. Blizzard has also increased the prize pool for the match. Last year, the London Spitfire won $1,000,000 for winning the Grand Finals. The Philadelphia Fusion won $400,000 for being the runner ups. This year, the winnings for the champions has been increased to $1,100,000, while the runner ups’ prize has been increased to 600,000. While not an insane amount of an increase, this bump in the prize pool is a clear sign of the financial success of the league.
Another exciting change coming to the 2019 Grand Finals is how fans can catch the action. For those that can not make it to Philadelphia, the old option of watching it on Twitch remains. However, Blizzard has announced a partnership with a wide arrange of networks around the world who will broadcast the finals. In the United States, ABC will broadcast it. It will also be broadcast by networks in Canada, China, France, Germany, and Russia.
While not the first time that Blizzard and the Overwatch League have partnered with major networks, none of these partnerships have been this major. In the past, Blizzard has had OWL matches shown on ESPN and Disney. While certainly impressive, none of these networks reach the same amount of viewers as ABC. In all fairness, the vast majority of OWL fans will most likely still watch the Grand Finals on Twitch. Nevertheless, Blizzard’s partnership with ABC and other mainstream networks around the globe have the potential to introduce millions of new people to the Overwatch League. It is also a sign that Overwatch, and eSports in general, are becoming much more accepted by the general public.
While still months away, this year’s Overwatch League Grand Finals looks to be even more exciting than last years. From an increased prize pool to new broadcasting partnerships, Blizzard is making sure that this Grand Finals is even bigger than the first. Furthermore, it is exciting to see the OWL traveling to yet another new city. Events like last month’s Dallas Homestand highlight how excited fans outside of the Los Angeles area can get when they are finally able to see an Overwatch League match in person. Fans in the Philadelphia area will finally be able to show their passion for the OWL to the rest of the world. This will be even more exciting if the Fusion are able to make a repeat appearance in the Grand Finals.
There is still much more information that has yet to be released about the Grand Finals. Tickets go on sale June 7, and Blizzard will certainly be releasing more information about the Grand Finals in the upcoming weeks.
It’s been a busy week, with Grand Finals news, Stage 2 Playoffs coming up, and All-Star Game announcements!
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) May 8, 2019