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Now that we’ve wrapped up Season 6 of the SPL and crowned SK Gaming as the 2019 World Champions, it’s time to start looking forward to next season. Today we’re excited to outline all our plans for Season 7 of the SMITE Pro League.

 

SPL Off-Season

 

Starting tomorrow, November 19, we will enter the free agency period for Season 7. Here’s a brief timeline of what the off-season will look like:

  • November 19, 2019: Free agency period begins
  • December 16, 2019: Free agency period ends
  • December 23, 2019: Deadline for filing Visa paperwork
  • March 14, 2020: Season 7 begins

Teams will be revealing rosters throughout the off-season, so be sure to pay attention to our Twitter page for roster updates.

 

What’s Changing in SPL 2020

 

For Season 7, all SMITE Pro League games will once again be played live on LAN at the Hi-Rez Esports studio in Alpharetta, GA. Much like Season 6, players will be expected to either relocate to Atlanta or travel to play their games at the studio. There will be no region restrictions, so any player from anywhere in the world can compete on an SPL team if they’re signed to a team.

There will be no relegations into SPL for the entirety of Season 7.

Although there is a lot staying the same between Season 6 and Season 7, there are a few key league changes we’d like to highlight:

  • Locked the number of pro league teams to eight. (Please see FAQ for more details.)
  • All teams will be required to have a coach/sub for a total of 6 players on the roster
  • Player salary requirements will remain the same, but this year the coach/sub must also be paid a minimum salary
  • The season structure will be adjusted to make matches matter more towards the SMITE World Championship Qualification

We’d also like to highlight some major broadcast changes for Season 7:

  • The SMITE Pro League will become 100% platform-agnostic for 2020, which means no more platform exclusivity for regular season games.
  • All Pro League games will be broadcast simultaneously across all our major streaming platforms (Twitch, Mixer, YouTube, and Steam)
  • Pro League broadcasts are moving back to weekends! Regular season matches will be played 3 days per week on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • Pro matches will begin at approximately 3:00 PM ET every day. We’ll have more scheduling information available closer to the start of the season.
  • Each week, we’ll see every team play at least one match.

The sections below will outline more details on each of these changes and what else you can expect from Season 7 of the SMITE Pro League.

 

SPL 2020 Participating Teams

 

We are very excited to announce our official partner organizations for Season 7 of the SPL. This year, we will be welcoming back the following teams:

  • Spacestation Gaming
  • Pittsburgh Knights
  • Renegades
  • Team Rival
  • eUnited
  • Obey Alliance

And we are thrilled to introduce two new organizations for this year:

  • Ghost Gaming
  • Sanguine Esports

Once free agency begins these eight organizations will start fielding their 2020 rosters, so stay tuned for updates once those lineups are locked in following the end of free agency in December!

 

SPL 2020 Format & Timeline

 

The Pro League is seeing lots of changes this season to ensure a more competitive environment for our players and a more engaging viewing experience for our audience. With that in mind, we’re making some updates to the league format, including the addition of two playoff events (one after each phase), a points system for worlds qualification, and more!

Here’s a general roadmap for Season 7. Keep reading for more details on how each portion of this season will play out.

  • Phase 1: March 14 – May 24, 2020
  • Phase 1 Playoffs: Summer 2020
  • All-Star Event: Summer 2020
  • Phase 2: July 24 – November 1, 2020
  • Phase 2 Playoffs: November 2020
  • SMITE World Championship Playoffs: TBD
  • SMITE World Championship Finals at Hi-Rez Expo: TBD

Similar to the 2019 season, the year will be split into two phases of competition:

Phase 1 (March 14 – May 24)

The opening phase of Season 7 will use the following format:

  • Double round robin
  • Best-of-three (Bo3) matches
  • 10 weeks of play with 1 BYE week (11 weeks in total)
  • Three days of competition each week (Friday-Sunday), with two matches per day

The top 6 teams from the Phase 1 Regular Season will qualify for the Phase 1 Playoffs outlined below.

Phase 1 Playoffs (June 12 – June 14)

The Phase 1 playoffs will be a three-day event featuring the top 6 SMITE Pro League teams from Phase 1. This live event will use the following format:

  • Single-elimination bracket
  • Best-of-five (Bo5) matches all the way through
  • 1st and 2nd seeds from SPL Phase 1 will receive a BYE into the semifinals
    • 1st seeded team will also select their semifinal opponent from the quarterfinal match winners
  • 3rd through 6th seeds from SPL Phase 1 will play in quarterfinals
  • $100,000 prize pool

Teams will earn SPL points and prizing based on their final placement in the Phase 1 Playoffs. The bottom two teams in the SMITE Pro League will earn no SPL points or additional prizing for the Phase. (More details on how points affect SPL seeding later in this post.)

Phase 2 (July 24 – November 1)

Phase 2 of Season 7 will be slightly longer than Phase 1 and will use the following format:

  • Triple round robin
  • Best-of-three (Bo3) matches
  • 14 weeks of play with 1 BYE week (15 weeks in total)
  • Three days of competition each week (Friday-Sunday), with two matches per day

The top 6 teams from the Phase 2 Regular Season will qualify for the Phase 2 Playoffs outlined below.

Phase 2 Playoffs (November 13 – November 15)

The Phase 2 playoffs will be another three-day event featuring the top 6 SMITE Pro League teams from Phase 2.

  • Single-elimination bracket
  • Best-of-five (Bo5) matches all the way through
  • 1st and 2nd seeds from SPL Phase 2 will receive a BYE into the semifinals
    • 1st seeded team will also select their semifinal opponent from the quarterfinal match winners
  • 3rd through 6th seeds from SPL Phase 1 will play in quarterfinals
  • $100,000 prize pool

The Phase 2 playoffs will be followed by a World Championship playoff event and the SMITE World Championship event. Please note: Playoff event dates may be subject to change. We will announce more concrete details about the format and schedule for the World Championship playoffs and the World Championship itself at a later date.

 

SPL 2020 Points System

 

After reviewing our structure for the SMITE Pro League in Season 6, we saw that there were two issues:

1. There were too many matches with little meaning early in the season
2. Phase 1 matches were weighted equally to Phase 2 matches

So for Season 7, we will be moving to a point-based system that will award teams points based on where they placed in the standings after the playoffs for each phase.

Here are how points will be granted to teams based on where they rank at the end of playoffs for each Phase:

Phase 1 Playoffs:

  • 1st Place: 90 Points
  • 2nd Place: 70 Points
  • 3rd Place: 40 Points
  • 4th Place: 40 Points
  • 5th Place: 10 Points
  • 6th Place: 10 Points
  • 7th Place: 0 Points
  • 8th Place: 0 Points

Phase 2 Playoffs:

  • 1st Place: Worlds #1 Seed
  • 2nd Place: 90 Points
  • 3rd Place: 55 Points
  • 4th Place: 55 Points
  • 5th Place: 20 Points
  • 6th Place: 20 Points
  • 7th Place: 0 Points
  • 8th Place: 0 Points

Point totals will count toward seeding for the SMITE World Championship playoffs and the SMITE World Championship.

The team that comes in first place in the Phase 2 Playoffs will automatically qualify to the SMITE World Championship as the #1 seed in the tournament. The team that has accrued the most points throughout the 2020 regular season will automatically qualify for Worlds as the #2 seed. (If the team with the most points all season is also the first place team from Phase 2, this spot will default instead to the team that accrued the second-most points all season.)

 

SPL 2020 Broadcast Schedule

 

We are especially excited to announce that in 2020, SMITE esports will be completely platform-agnostic for all broadcasts — meaning fans can watch our Pro League games on their streaming platform of choice.

For all of Season 7, we will broadcast matches to the following channels:

We’re also moving back toward weekend broadcasts, so all regular season games will be broadcast weekly on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Matches will begin at approximately 3:00 PM ET every day. More scheduling information will be announced closer to the start of the season.

 

SPL 2020 FAQ

 

Why did the SMITE Pro League move from 10 teams down to 8 teams for 2020?

The SMITE Esports scene in 2019 was the most competitive it’s ever been across the board. However, we still felt that the bottom teams in our leagues were not quite up to par with the rest of the competition over an entire season. Over the course of Season 6, the bottom 3 teams were frequently tied for last place in the league, and were even knocked down by amateur teams in our playoff brackets. The competitive gap between seed #7 and seed #8 this season felt too wide to ignore, as the difference in standings between SK at #7 and Luminosity at #8 was four match wins — which is a lot of matches to make up.

After seeing SK Gaming’s incredible run at the World Championship this year, we’re even more confident this is the right move. Ending the season as the #7 seed and making a comeback that took them all the way to winning the SMITE World Championship is exactly the kind of journey we want every pro league team to be capable of making.

For this reason, we felt it was the best to restrict our Pro League to 8 teams — not only for the 2020 season, but also for the future of SMITE esports. Future expansion back to 10 teams (if the level of competition warrants it) is a more favorable long-term option than expanding to 12 teams from our current format.

Best-of-five matches made the Pro League matches feel really competitive in 2019. Why the change to a best-of-three format?

Best-of-five matches are great for SMITE’s competitive scene and we don’t want to get rid of them. But after reviewing both player and fan feedback from this last season, we wanted to make sure we could save Bo5s for our high-profile events, like playoffs and qualifiers.

Because our teams will be playing 50 more matches during the 2020 regular season compared to the 2019 regular season, we also felt the change was necessary for players and staff to avoid burnout.

Where and when will the SMITE World Championship for the 2020 season be held?

We will announce details on the SMITE World Championship venue and date sometime during the regular season.

Can fans expect any follow-up on the announcements made today to get more insight into the 2020 changes?

Yes! We want to give our fans an inside look at our approach for 2020 and why we’ve made some of these changes. If you haven’t already, you can check out our blog post regarding sustainability for SMITE esports in 2020 and beyond. And in the coming weeks, you can expect a few more other pieces of content related to our 2020 plans, including:

  • Video interviews from Hi-Rez Esports staff about our vision for 2020
  • A guidebook to branding changes, website updates, and other promo opportunities for next season
  • A live AMA with our esports staff and community managers

 


 

Those are all the details we have to share for now! All of us here at Hi-Rez Esports are excited to spend another amazing year with our Pro League community. Be sure to check out our other announcements for the SMITE Challenger Circuit and the SMITE Open Circuit for 2020. And follow us on Twitter @SmitePro for more updates as we get closer to kicking off SPL Season 7!