Overwatch Contenders is the competition just below the Overwatch League, and in a new post Blizzard has revealed some changes coming to the tournament. First, they announced that all regions will compete over two seasons to determine the best from that part of the world, and the seasons are split as follows:
. Phase one: Trials. In this phase, eight teams from each region will battle it out to determine who will make it into the next phase.
. Phase two: Regular season. The top-performing teams from each region will join academy teams to play in this phase. From here, the top six teams will proceed to the third phase.
. Phase three: Playoffs. The top six teams will fight each other in a round-robin style single-elimination tournament. From here the top two teams from each region will make it into the semi-finals.
. Phase four: Atlantic and Pacific showdowns. Here the top two teams from Europe, North America, and South America will compete in a double elimination tournament called the Atlantic Showdown. In the same format, the top two teams from Australia, China, Korea and Asia-Pacific will play in the Pacific Showdown.
In season two there are slight differences to the aforementioned four-phase format. In phase one, the top four teams from Open Division and the bottom two teams from 2019 Season 1 will face off. In phase four - named the Gauntlet - 10 teams will compete in group stages and ultimately a double-elimination bracket. Only top-performing regions will send their teams from Season 2 to the Gauntlet, and performance in the Pacific and Atlantic Showdowns will determine region-specific invites.
Blizzard has also changed the timeline of their 2019 Contenders league, stating that: "Contenders Season 1 will take place during Stages 1 and 2 of the Overwatch League, and Season 2 will take place during Stages 3 and 4. The Atlantic and Pacific Showdowns will run concurrently during the Overwatch League's All-Star break, allowing for wider scouting opportunities. The Gauntlet will serve as the capstone for all Contenders events for 2019 and will take place after the conclusion of the Overwatch League playoffs."
When it comes to the prize pool Blizzard is making big waves here too, awarding more than $3 million USD in prize money like they did last year. However, this time they are changing the rewards so better teams get a larger cut. The Atlantic and Pacific Showdowns will include a $125,000 prize pool, and the Gauntlet will award a $250,000 prize pool.
Are you going to tune into to this year's Overwatch Contenders series?