Blizzard has announced a new league called Overwatch Contenders, which will take the roots of a development program for “aspiring professionals.”
It will comprise two tournaments and commence this summer for North American and Europe. Season Zero will be an online-only qualifier and feature a prize pot of $50,000 per region. The top teams from both sides will then advance to Season One of Overwatch Contenders, where offline-only playoffs will be accompanied by another $50,000 prize pot per region.
The North American qualifiers will run from June 3-4, while the European qualifiers will take place from June 10-11. The playoffs will officially kick off on July 1 and 2 for North America and Europe respectively. Registrations are now open through the official website.
“Over the first year of organized Overwatch competition, we’ve seen an incredible exhibition of skill at Overwatch APEX in South Korea, the Overwatch Pacific Championship in the Asia-Pacific region, and the Overwatch Premier Series in China,” reads the press release. “It’s time to bring that level of competition to the West.”
The company noted that the prize pool, while acceptable, is hardly something to be excited about. The main goal of the new platform is to give players the opportunity to showcase their skills and garner followings. The publicity will help teams in more than one way when it is finally time for the Overwatch League.
The League of Legends Challenger circuit is similar in this regard. However, winning teams from there are able to enter the League Championship Series (LCS). Blizzard has not clarified whether the same applies for Overwatch Contenders, and the winning teams will get slots in the Overwatch League.
There is still no news on the Overwatch League. Several esports organizations have already dropped their Overwatch rosters out of concern for the competitive scene’s health and longevity. Blizzard will be hosting an Anniversary event tomorrow. The company is expected to drop details about the league this week.