Though the Overwatch League is not yet live, Blizzard wants to keep the hype strong this summer and may have found the way with Overwatch Contenders, a development league for anyone wishing to walk the path of a professional gamer.
As much as I love competitive play in Overwatch — and I know I’m not the only one — I would never dream of playing professionally. I’m just not good enough. But for those who are, this will be a great opportunity for exposure, and Blizzard is well aware of that: “Of course, there is more than cash on the line—with organizations looking to fill their rosters for the launch of the Overwatch League, all eyes will be watching this summer’s competitive showcase.”
Season Zero breakdown:
- May 22: NA & EU team registration opens
- June 2: NA team registration closes
- June 3-4: NA Open Qualifier
- June 9: EU team registration closes
- June 10-11: EU Open Qualifier
- June 17: EU Group Stage
- June 18: NA Group Stage
- June 24: EU Group Stage
- June 25: NA Group Stage
- July 1: EU Playoffs (Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals)
- July 2: NA Playoffs (Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals)
The open qualifier is where you’ll fight it out to become one of the top 16 teams. Its format will be single elimination and all matches will be determined in a best of three series. Once both North America and Europe have finished the open qualifier, the final 8 teams will move into the group stage and play the opposing teams over two days, and the top two of each region will move on to the playoffs.
There is still no official confirmation (that I could find) on whether Season One will start immediately after Zero. I would imagine they would want to keep the anticipation going strong and that there will be minimal downtime between seasons.
This will help Blizzard to reinforce their commitment to making Overwatch a recognized esport with an official league and dedicated support.
Registration for Overwatch Contends is currently open so if you’re interested head on over and take a look. Be sure to look thoroughly at the rules though as these games will be live-streamed and so you will be asked to conduct yourself appropriately. It also will give you a better idea of the pay structure of the tournament as well as the way the playoffs will bracket out.