By Steven Maxwell Tan
Almost every major league sport has a minor league system where they develop athletes who are not yet ready to compete with top tier teams.
The NBA has the G-League. The National Hockey League has the American Hockey League. European football leagues have a tier system where teams are promoted and relegated. Major League Baseball has the minor leagues.
Like any other major league sport, Overwatch League (OWL) wants to have a system that develops future recruits. This is Overwatch Contenders (OWC).
For 2018, Blizzard has selected specific regions/countries of the world to hold tournaments:
1. South Korea
3. Asia Pacific
6. North America
7. South America
Understandably, with the level of talent in South Korea & China, they have their own respective tournaments. All tournaments will follow a set of rules established by Blizzard.
Let’s take a look at some of the basics of Contenders.
Who are the teams?
While OWL’s teams represent specific cities, the players aren’t always from the city they represent. New York Excelsior (NYXL) is comprised of purely Korean Players. You don’t see that in OWC. Every team actually has players from the respective countries. Teams from Thailand actually have Thai Nationals, etc. The point of Contenders is to bring up the rising talents from different countries to, hopefully, make OWL a proper global esport league.
An example of how the system works is seen in OWC Korea Team Kongdoo Panthera. One of their players, Void, was called up to the OWL’s LA Gladiators and is joining former Teammate, Fissure.
“Good Bye, Void! “
— team KONGDOO (@teamKONGDOO) March 26, 2018
Contenders helps because of how varied the countries are in each tournament.
9 of the 12 OWL Teams have already set up their own Minor League (Academy) Teams. The only ones that do not have any academy teams are the Dallas Fuel, LA Valiant and, Seoul Dynasty. Majority of the academy teams will be in the North American Division with a few others in different parts of the world.
Now, if we’re going to talk about each and every team this article would be a very long one. Let’s focus on a select few from the Pacific Region Tournament.
1. Hong Kong Attitude: The only team from Hong Kong
2. Chaos Theory: The only Singaporean Team
3. Yoshimito Encount: The Lone Japanese Team
4. Blank Esports: An Australian team which also has its own sister team in the Australian Tournament
How will Matches play out?
Each region will have 12 teams competing in the tournaments.
All tournaments will have the same format. 2 Divisions with 6 teams in each side, using the single round robin format in the preliminary matches.They will compete in Maps to be mentioned below.
For Contenders, each matchup will have teams play against each other in 4 game rounds with a different kind of map each time. The map types to be used are: Control, Hybrid, Assault and, Escort.
Here is the list of Maps to be used for Contenders:
Control: Ilios or Nepal
Hybrid: Hollywood or Numbani
Assault: Hanamura or Horizon Lunar Colony
Escort: Junkertown or Dorado
If there’s a tiebreaker, the teams will play in Oasis in a Best of 3 Match.
After the preliminary matches, there will be playoffs in each region. The format will be single elimination. For example Top 4 in Group 1 has Teams ABCD ranked 1 to 4, Group 2 has Teams EFGH ranked 1 to 4. Teams that don’t do well in Contenders, however, will need to compete in the Overwatch Contenders Trials. This is where they will have to prove to the world that they are still capable of staying in Contenders.
Moving on. Group 1’s Top Seed will face the lowest seed of Group 2. Group 1’s Second Seed will face the 3rd Seed of Group 2. The same goes for Group 2’s Top Seed. They face Group 1’s No. 4 Seed while Group 2’s No. 2 seed will face Group 1’s No. 3 Seed.
Here’s what the table would look like:
Best of 5 Quarterfinals:
Matchup 1: G1 No. 1 Seed vs G2 No. 4 Seed
Matchup 2: G1 No. 2 Seed vs G2 No. 3 Seed
Matchup 3: G2 No. 1 Seed vs G1 No. 4 Seed
Matchup 4: G2 No. 2 Seed vs G1 No. 3 Seed
The winners of those matches would then advance to a best of 5 Semifinals, also Single Elimination for example:
Best of 5 Semis:
Matchup 1: G1 No. 1 Seed vs G2 No. 3 Seed
Matchup 2: G2 No. 1 Seed vs G2 No. 2 Seed
After that, we get a Best of 7 Grand Final. This event determines who are the Top 2 teams for each region who can potentially rise up to the OWL.
Matchup: G1 No. 1 Seed vs G2 No. 2 Seed
When & Where do the games take place?
The games began in Early March and will end in Late May. You can check out the schedule here: https://contenders.playoverwatch.com/en-us/schedule