Everyone has been watching for the debut of the Overwatch League, and all of the pieces are now in place for the December preseason. However, the Overwatch League has always been meant to be the highest part of a larger ecosystem. The new system will be much larger, with the opportunity for anyone (even you?!) to fight their way from online solo play to being eligible to play in the competitive Contenders circuit.
Every player with a copy of Overwatch can compete in ranked play. Once they reach the highest ranks, they’ll be eligible for the Open Division. Open Division teams will be placed in a tournament, against similarly ranked teams. The idea here is that a gentle group of gamers stepping onto the pro stage for the very first time will not be placed against the meanest, leanest squad to fall just short of the Overwatch League. The teams who succeed in the Open Division will enter the Contender Trials.
A whole new Contenders
At the heart of this system will be the newly expanded Overwatch Contenders line of tournaments — which allow both professional and amateur teams to compete against one another on a slightly smaller scale than the Overwatch League. What started as tournaments that were limited to just North America and Europe will be expanded to encompass seven total regions. Tournaments that were formerly separate from Blizzard’s ecosystem, such as Overwatch APEX in Korea, Overwatch Premier Series in China and Overwatch Pacific will now all be joining as Contenders Korea, Contenders China and Contenders Pacific respectively. These five existing tournaments will be joined by two new regions, Australia and South America, to make up Overwatch Contenders.
The Contenders tournament will continue to focus on allowing amateur teams and players the opportunity to show off their skills and compete at the highest level by providing an Open Division that will allow participants that may not have major sponsorships to join the tournament. This Open Division will culminate in the Contenders Trials, which start in February, and will allow the top four teams from each region’s Open Division to compete in an eight team promotion relegation tournament for a chance to play in Overwatch Contenders.
We'll find out more details about this new system in December, along with the launch of the Overwatch League’s inaugural preseason.