The Overwatch Contenders League was created as an official path for aspiring professional Overwatch players to develop their skills, gain the knowledge of how to work with a professional team, and get scouted by Overwatch League teams. This year Blizzard has made some changes to bring more competition and a bigger emphasis on the talented players competing in the Contenders League. Here are the changes you can expect to see in 2019.
New Seasons, New Structure
This year the Contenders League will be composed of two seasons. Each of the eight Contenders regions will compete to ascertain who the best of the region is. These champions will be determined at the end of these seasons after the entire season has been completed.
The schedule for Season 1 will be broken down into four phases:
Phase 1: Trials
Phase 2: Regular Season
Phase 3: Playoffs
Phase 4: Atlantic and Pacific Showdowns.
The trials for Season 1 will be “act as a transitional tournament” and will feature eight teams in each region instead of the original twelve. In phase two of Season 1, within each region, all academy teams and certain selected teams from last years season will receive invites to compete in the regular season.
In addition to the invites, the top teams from phase one will fill in the remaining slots to round off each regions Regular Season to eight teams. Teams in the Regular Season will compete in a round-robin tournament structure with only the top six teams advancing to the Season 1 playoffs.
The most exciting part for Season 1 will be the playoffs. The top six teams from each region’s playoffs will compete against one another in a single-elimination bracket. The top two teams from each region will get a bye which will send them straight to the semifinals. When the playoffs are completed, only one team from each region will be crowned the champions.
The Atlantic and Pacific Showdowns, or phase four, will commence at the end of phase three once all the regions have crowned their champions. The top teams from South America, Europe and North American will compete in a double-elimination tournament that will be appropriately named the “Atlantic Showdown”. Following the same style as the Atlantic Showdown, the Pacific Showdown will be comprised of the top teams from China, Korea, Asia-Pacific, and Australia.
The second part of the 2019 Contenders League is called the 2019 Season 2. It will follow the same structure of the first three phases of 2019 Season 1 with a few differences. Phase one will see the top four teams who competed in the Open Division faceoff with the bottom two teams from 2019 Season 1 compete in a round-robin tournament to win the last slows for the Regular Season. All teams, regardless of if they are an Academy team or not, will have to compete for their chance to play in the Regular Season.
The second change will be phase four of 2019 Season 2 – The Gauntlet. The Gauntlet will be the biggest event of Season 2 where the top ten teams will compete in a tournament broken into group stages and then a double-elimination bracket. Teams can only be sent from regions if they are the top-performing team from Season 2 with invites being sent to teams based on their performance in the Pacific and Atlantic Showdowns from Season 1.
What is the Timeline for the Contenders League?
With the introduction of the “two-way player contracts” in June of last year, the new Contenders League structure will support this contract making having Season 1 take place during the first two Stages of the Overwatch League (OWL) and then Second 2 will take place during the last two Stages of OWL. The two showdowns, the Atlantic and Pacific, will take place during the OWL All-Star break. This will allow for creating scouting opportunities. The Gauntlet will be held after the OWL playoffs as it will be the highlight of the Contenders League in 2019.
This year Blizzard is switching their prize structure to better reward the teams with the top performances. The Atlantic and Pacific Showdowns will boast a $125,00 prize pool and the Gauntlet will have a $250,000 prize pool.
Phase one of the 2019 Contenders Season 1 is underway! Head over to the Overwatch contenders Twitch channel to catch all the action.