The Overwatch League kicks off its fourth season this week, and while the majority of matches will be played remotely, today the league announced plans to hold multiple live events in China.

There will be three events spread across three cities — Hangzhou in June, Shanghai in July, and Guangzhou in August — and the league says they will take place in venues with reduced capacity “in order to comply with local safety requirements.” The events will be something of a hybrid between online and in-person competition. Here’s how OWL describes it:

The five China-based teams — Hunters, Charge, Spark, Valiant, and Dragons — plan to travel to each of the events to compete onstage, while the three Korea-based teams — NYXL, Fusion, and Dynasty — are not expected to travel. Matches taking place between a China-based team and a Korea-based team will feature the Chinese team competing onstage while their opponent competes from Korea remotely on our cloud tournament server.

Like most esports leagues, OWL was forced to pivot last year to online competition due to the ongoing pandemic; even the championship match featured pro teams playing remotely. The change was particularly big for OWL, as the league — which features 20 squads based in 19 cities across North America, Europe, and Asia — was preparing for its first season where teams would play matches in home venues. While the majority of the 2021 season is still expected to take place remotely, today’s news is an important step for OWL getting back to its original goal.

The Overwatch League’s 2021 season begins on April 16th, with a huge slate of matches throughout the weekend.

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