Overwatch Contenders (OWC) is a Major series of professional Overwatch tournaments held around the world, organized by Blizzard Entertainment. Contenders acts as the development series below the Overwatch League for aspiring pro players.
Contenders began in 2017 with Contenders Season Zero and Contenders 2017 Season 1 in North America and Europe.
Beginning in 2018, Contenders expanded to seven regions. The seven current regions are:
- North America
- South America
In addition to expanding to seven regions, the Trials system was introduced, and relegation between Contenders and Open Division was revealed. The top 4 teams from the previous Open Division season, and the bottom 4 teams from the previous Contenders season, would play in Trials to determine who would play in the next season of Contenders.
Beginning in 2018 Season 1 of Contenders, Overwatch League teams were given the opportunity to establish Academy teams to develop talent in Contenders. All Overwatch League teams except for the Los Angeles Valiant, Dallas Fuel and the Seoul Dynasty established Academy teams for the first season of 2018 Contenders, with the Dallas Fuel establishing their Academy team during the second season.
On October 30th, 2018, Blizzard announced changes to Contenders for the 2019 Season. The number of teams in all regions would be reduced from twelve to eight, and North America would be split into two regions, North America West and North America East, bringing the number of Contenders tournaments to eight. A number of other changes were also introduced.
- Reducing the number of Seasons from 3 to 2.
- Making each Contenders Season longer.
- Adjusting the prizing to better reward top teams.
In addition to these changes, Blizzard announced that they would be introducing a "soft region lock" for Contenders 2019. Contenders teams will be restricted to a maximum of three non-resident players on their roster.
Relevant Overwatch Development League Series
Precursor leagues ran in 2016/2017, before Contenders was expanded to each respective region.
|Region||Location||Abbr.||League Name||Contenders Region|
|Shanghai||OWPS||Overwatch Premier Series||Contenders China|
|Seoul||APEX||OGN Overwatch APEX||Contenders Korea|
|Taipei||OPC||Overwatch Pacific Championship||Contenders Pacific|
- Currently, 7 of the 20 Overwatch League teams have active Academy teams in various Contenders regions.
|ATL Academy (Inactive)||Atlanta Reign|
|Uprising Academy||Boston Uprising|
|Team Envy (Inactive)||Dallas Fuel|
|Mayhem Academy (Inactive)||Florida Mayhem|
|GG Esports Academy (Inactive)||Houston Outlaws|
|Gladiators Legion (Inactive)||Los Angeles Gladiators|
|N/A||Los Angeles Valiant|
|XL2 Academy (Inactive)||New York Excelsior|
|NRG Esports (Inactive)||San Francisco Shock|
|Montreal Rebellion (Inactive)||Toronto Defiant|
|LGE.Huya (Inactive)||Chengdu Hunters|
|Ultra Prime Academy||Guangzhou Charge|
|Bilibili Gaming||Hangzhou Spark|
|Team CC||Shanghai Dragons|
|British Hurricane||London Spitfire|
|Eternal Academy (Inactive)||Paris Eternal|
|Gen.G esports||Seoul Dynasty|
For the 2019 Overwatch League season, teams and players may negotiate the right to designate the player as eligible to compete in Contenders on their affiliated Academy team. Any player on the roster may agree to be eligible for Contenders play, but a maximum of four players may be designated as “two-way” players during each Overwatch League stage, and those players must be identified and submitted to the League Office prior to each stage.
Two-way players are eligible to compete in Contenders, subject to the following rules:
- Regardless of where they play, two-way players count toward the Overwatch League roster limit of 12 and must earn the same salary and benefits. Two-way players also will count towards the eight-player Contenders roster limit for weeks in which their Contenders team designates them as eligible to compete.
- Two-way players lose their Contenders eligibility if they appear in more than two Overwatch League matches in a stage.
- A maximum of two designated two-way players may compete in any single Contenders match.
- No player will be eligible to appear in both Contenders and Overwatch League matches in the same week.