The Overwatch League has announced updated roster rules for Season Two.
The first season of the league is drawing to a close, and soon teams will have to start building for the next year. The Overwatch League has now announced the new rules and restrictions that will apply to roster moves for the off season.
Season One of the Overwatch League concludes with the grand finals on July 27—28. On August 1, a trading window opens for existing teams, in which they can negotiate contract extensions with their current rosters, sign players from their affiliated Contenders teams, or trade players with other established teams.
On September 9, player contracts from the inaugural season will end unless an extension has been negotiated. At this point, any players not under extended contracts will automatically move into free agency.
At this point, an exclusive signing period will begin for Season Two expansion teams, of which there are expected to be six, although nothing has yet been officially confirmed. This will give the new teams a chance to build rosters without the established teams, who already have the advantage of an existing roster, competing for free agents immediately and limiting the new teams’ options further.
That exclusive period will end on October 7. From October 8, all teams will be able to sign free agents. The end date of the open signing window will be announced at a later date, although all teams must have at least eight players by December 1 – a departure from Season One, for which teams were only required to have six.
Changes are also being made on the Contenders side of things. Rosters will now be capped at eight players, down from twelve, but buyout fees will be negotiable, whereas in Season One of Contenders they were a fixed 25% of the player’s salary. Buyouts will still be capped, however, at 100% of the player’s average annual base salary in the Overwatch League.
In addition, Overwatch League teams with Contenders squads will be able to designate up to four players on their OWL roster as “two-way” players during each stage of the league. These players will be able to compete in Contenders, subject to certain restrictions.
Two-way players will still count towards the twelve-man roster limit for Overwatch League even if competing in Contenders, and will count towards the eight-man Contenders roster when designated as competing there. Two-way players can only compete in Contenders if they play no more than two Overwatch League matches within a stage. No more than two two-way players can compete on a Contenders squad simultaneously.
The restrictions are clearly designed to prevent Overwatch League teams from stacking their Contenders squads with elite Overwatch League players as and when they need them, but the new system should allow OWL players who find themselves largely confined to the bench the opportunity to take part in some real competition without forfeiting their place in the league entirely.