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Overwatch Contenders Gets Revamp For 2019 With Two Seasons, Gauntlet Finals, More

February 6, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Overwatch Contenders

– Overwatch is making big changes to its Contenders division for 2019, announcing a revamp to the Tier Two system. Blizzard announced on Wednesday that 2019 will consist of two seasons that will take place concurrently with the second season of the Overwatch League and will culminate on “The Gauntlet,” a tournament that will serve as the pinnacle for the year for Contenders.

Season one will take place over the first two stages of the Overwatch League, thus between February 14th and May 5th. The second season runs over OWL’s third and fourth stages and thus between June 6th and August 25th. Each stage will feature four phases: Trials, the regular season and the playoffs, followed by a tournament to end the season. More details follow:

Season One

* Season One’s trials will be a tournament transitioning from the twelve-team-per-region 2018 format to the (mostly) eight-team 2019 format. This means that trials will include more Contenders teams than Open Division teams, with the teams all fighting for the available remaining spots in the regular season.

* The regular season will feature all Academy teams — those teams that serve as “minor league” teams to Overwatch League teams — as well as top-performing teams from the previous season. The remaining slots will be filled with the top-performing teams from the trials phase. The regular season will be a round-robin tournament with the top six teams moving on to the playoffs.

* The playoffs will feature a single-elimination bracket tournament between the top six teams, with the top two seeds receiving byes. A champion will be crowned in each region.

* The season one tournaments will be the previously-announced Showdowns, the top teams from Europe, North America, and South America compete in the double-elimination Atlantic Showdown and Pacific Showdown featuring the best teams from Australia, China, Korea, and Asia-Pacific. You can learn more about Showdowns here.

Season Two

* Season Two will see the implementation of a new trials format, with the top four teams from Open Division facing the bottom two teams from Season One in a round-robin tournament to full the remaining slots for the regular season. It is noted that Academy teams will not be exempt from relegation and if they are in the bottom two, will have to participate in trials to keep their spot in the season.

* The regular season and playoffs will be the same as Season One regular season and playoffs.

* The final phase of the regular season will be The Gauntlet, which runs from October 10th through the 13th and features the ten top-performing teams competing in group stages, and ultimately a a double-elimination bracket.

2019 will also see the insitution of two-way player contracts, which were previously announced and allow Overwatch League teams to “call up” Contenders players who have a two-way contract. And finally, the announcement notes that prizing, which will be more than $3 million, “has been reallocated to more heavily reward top-performing teams.” Both the Atlantic and Pacific Showdowns will include a US $125,000 prize pool, with the Gauntlet awarding a US $250,000 prize pool.

The moves come as Blizzard attempts to address complaints that have plagued Overwatch’s pro scene about the lack of support for Tier Two and Tier Three teams. A more formalized format should help make the seasons easier for fans to follow and thus easier for Blizzard/Activision to promote and support.

Trials is already underway for season one, with the regular season starting on February 24th with Contenders Australia.