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Overwatch League's 2022 season will start on an early build of 'Overwatch 2'

There's still no official release window for the sequel, though.

Overwatch 2 hero Winston
Blizzard Entertainment
Kris Holt
Kris Holt|@krisholt|September 3, 2021 2:56 PM

Though the Overwatch League's post-season gets underway this weekend, league officials are already making plans for next year. OWL vice-president Jon Spector wrote on Twitter that the current plan is to kick off the 2022 season in April, but there's an interesting wrinkle, as Dot Esports first reported. As things stand, the next season will start on an early version of Overwatch 2, the long-awaited sequel to the current game.

"The plan right now is for the Overwatch League’s 2022 season to begin on an early build of Overwatch 2," an Overwatch League spokesperson told Engadget. "We’ll have more details to share about our 2022 season as we get closer to the planned start date in April of next year."

Recent reports suggested the next OWL season might not start until fall 2022, amid Overwatch 2 release date uncertainty. However, Dexerto reported this week that Blizzard is targeting a Q2 release window — in other words, around the time the next OWL season starts, or soon after. In February, Activision Blizzard said it was unlikely to release Overwatch 2 or Diablo 4 this year.

The arrival of Overwatch 2, which Blizzard announced at BlizzCon 2019, will spell huge changes for the esport, and the Overwatch scene as a whole. All of the player vs. player updates will be reflected in the current game (OW2 will have a big focus on co-op story missions too). 

The sequel will herald new modes and maps, a fresh game engine, more characters, an overhaul of existing heroes and, most significantly, a shift from teams of six to squads of five, with each side fielding one tank instead of the current two. That'll likely have an impact on Overwatch League rosters for next season and beyond, with fewer spots available for tank players.

Moving OWL to Overwatch 2 in this fashion has its pros and cons, especially given that it'll be an early build. If the latest release timeline reports are accurate, though, the game will be almost ready for public consumption by that point, so there hopefully won't be many bugs. What's more, OWL players will want to practice on public servers as much as possible, so there might be an Overwatch 2 beta, at the very least, by April.

Plans could change and OWL might stick with the current version of Overwatch if there are any significant development hurdles. However, if Blizzard can get the early build ready in time, the next Overwatch League season could give the publisher a great opportunity to show off Overwatch 2 to fans before the game eventually arrives.

Overwatch League's 2022 season will start on an early build of 'Overwatch 2'