A Huge Boon for the Tier Two Scene
The Overwatch League may have been on a long break since the stage finals back in July, but the tier two level of Overwatch has been going strong. Overwatch Contenders, a part of the path to pro system in place for Overwatch esports, has just wrapped up it’s season three finals for the North America region. With eight new teams coming into the Overwatch League several talented players and even entire teams have made the jump to the professional level.
This all said Contenders has often struggled when compared to the Overwatch League. Viewership for any of the eight contenders regions has never been nearly as high as the OWL. The game has further suffered when stream drop events, such as the one happening right now, would happen concurrently with matches without being enabled for the games.
Things may be looking up for tier two Overwatch in 2019 however. Today Blizzard Entertainment announced three upcoming live events for contenders in 2019. Calling them Showdowns, three are planned for the year. It all starts by dividing these eight regions into two showdowns, Pacific and Atlantic, like the Overwatch League.
The Pacific showdown will star, “top teams from Australia, China, Korea, and the Pacific,” The announcement states. This Showdown will run from May 24-26th with “an intense double-elimination bracket.” The exact location has not been specified at this time, however, the announcement states China will host the event.
Less than a week later from May 31-June 2 comes the Atlantic Showdown. Details here are less complete with the location of the matches still undecided. As in the Pacific showdown, the format will be double-elimination and star teams from North and South America and Europe.
The big event for Contenders in 2019 will be the final Showdown in October. Called the Gauntlet this tournament will pit the best of the contender’s teams from all regions against each other. Teams will compete in both groups and a double elimination bracket. Invites for this event will be based on the performance of teams at the previous showdowns. The announcement stated that “The Gauntlet’s tournament format will emphasize interregional competition for maximum excitement.”
For many of these players, this is a chance to shine on a stage outside of their own region. The goal of Contenders has been to showcase the best tier two talent and weaving these Showdowns in between the Overwatch league stages will help this happen. This the best opportunity these players and teams will have outside of the world cup to show off their skill to professional teams and fans alike.
You can read the official announcement for yourself and mark your calendars for these bouts. As the Overwatch League grows so too should the Contenders level. These Showdowns have the potential to be the biggest part of the Contenders year and you won’t want to miss them. After all, the DPS from Fusion University in May could be starting on the Valiant next season.