Esports Arena: EVO 2020 Reveals Games Roster; Team-Owned 'CS:GO' League Launches

Evo Championship Japan - Getty - H 2020
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Elsewhere in competitive gaming: Blizzard unveils Hero Pools for 'Overwatch' play; Real Madrid star unveils new esports league; and 'Rocket League' matches delayed by internal network issues.

Esports Arena is a curated weekly roundup of the biggest stories in the world of online competitive gaming.

Blizzard Entertainment unveiled a major format change ahead of the third season of Overwatch League play with the new Hero Pools

Hero Pools will take data across all of Overwatch’s played matches, analyze which playable characters (heroes) are being used the most and lock them from play on a given week. For Overwatch League, these pools will disable two damage heroes, one support hero and one tank hero for an entire weekend of play beginning March 7.

According to the Overwatch League website, the characters will be “randomly selected from a group of eligible heroes based on play-rate data from the previous two weeks of Overwatch League matches,” adding that “only heroes that are being played regularly can be pulled from the next hero pool.”

The league also specifies that heroes will not be made unavailable two weeks in a row, nor will Hero Pools affect competitions during midseason tournaments, the play-in tournament, playoffs or the 2020 Grand Finals. Teams will also be informed of the disabled hero pool one week before each affected weekend of matches. 

The goal, according to the league, is to “foster a wider range of team strategies and showcase more heroes in competition as players adapt and teams experiment with new compositions.”

Elsewhere, the full slate of games for the 2020 Evolution Championship Series, or EVO, has been revealed. The eight main games to be featured in this year’s event are:

  • DRAGON BALL FighterZ (PS4)
  • Granblue Fantasy Versus (PS4)
  • Samurai Shodown (PS4)
  • Soulcalibur VI (PS4)
  • Street Fighter V: Champion Edition (PS4)
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
  • Tekken 7 (PS4)
  • Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] (PS4)

This marks the first time since 2010 that a NetherRealm Studios game, either in the Mortal Kombat or Injustice franchise, has not been featured among the main EVO games. 

Along with these games, a special event marking the 20th anniversary of Marvel vs Capcom 2 will also be held, with eight top players, including the four EVO champions from years past, will take part in an eight-person tournament called the “20urnament of Champions.” 

EVO 2020 will take place from July 31 to Aug. 2 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Here’s what else is happening in the world of esports.

Real Madrid Star Reveals New Esports League

International soccer star Gareth Bale, currently of club Real Madrid, has announced the inception of a brand new esports organization called Ellevens Esports. The team was formally announced via Bale’s Twitter on Feb. 3 and will initially focus on FIFA competitions after signing pro players Pedro “Resende” Henrique, Ethan “EthxnH” Higgins and Tyler Phillips. Bale is quoted on the team’s official site saying, “On the pitch, the goal is always to win. With Ellevens Esports, that winning attitude is just as important.” The team’s website also confirms that Ellevens will be recruiting across multiple games, including Fortnite, Overwatch, Rocket League, Street Fighter and others.  

PlayStation Announces Two New Games Coming to PS4 Tournaments

Sony has revealed two new games that will be joining the PS4 Tournaments initiative, as Soul Calibur VI and NBA 2K20 will be joining Mortal Kombat 11 and FIFA 20 in the program. PS4 Tournaments are online-only tournaments for players of all skill levels, where winners receive everything from vouchers for PlayStation Plus to real money throughout the competitions. New Tournament series for all four games in the program will begin this week. PlayStation also announced an exclusive Fortnite tournament, the Fortnite Celebration Cup, which will take place Feb. 15-16 and offer a $1 million prize pool. 

Rocket League Championship Series Matches Delayed

The first week of the new season of the Rocket League Championship Series has been delayed due to internal network issues at the game’s developer Psyonix. The ninth season of the RLCS kicked off in disastrous fashion, as neither the North American nor the European teams could connect to lobbies and start matches due to PsyNet connectivity issues. Rocket League Esports then made the delay announcement official on Twitter, saying, “We understand that this is frustrating, but we feel it is in the best interest of competitive integrity to move them rather than attempt to play them out.” The competitions were later delayed to Feb. 8 in North America and Feb. 9 for European teams.

New Team-Owned Counter-Strike: Global Offensive League Kicks Off

The first Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league run entirely by the teams within it, Flashpoint, has been revealed. Flashpoint is billed as “a unique entertainment product, offering fans a grittier show targeted at adults that takes inspiration from the WWE and UFC,” and will be played in an offline live studio setting with two full season played per year. The initial prize pool, according to the press release, will total over $2 million in the year 2020. Open qualifiers for this new league will begin Feb. 6th, and teams can sign up here.