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A few weeks ago, Blizzard announced a potential pathway for Australian Overwatch players to the Overwatch League in the form of the Overwatch contenders competition.
Play got underway for good yesterday, with 12 Oceanic esports organisations doing battle to win cash prizes and, hopefully, be noticed by scouts from the Overwatch League.
Here is everything you need to know about the competition.
Overwatch Contenders is a semi-professional esports competition held in multiple regions across the world. Separate leagues exist in China, Europe, Korea, North America, Asia-Pacific and South America, but a new competition is taking place in Australia for the very first time.
Three seasons will take place each year, with teams competing for the attention of Overwatch League scouts, as well as a share of $150,000 (USD) in prize money.
Players can reach the Contenders competition through a lower-ranked competition called the Overwatch Open Division. Players are eligible to compete in Open Division simply through playing the game’s competitive mode and reaching the very highest ranks.
At the end of each Contenders season, the bottom teams will face off against the top Open Division teams in a promotion-relegation battle to see who competes in the next season.
The Overwatch Contenders Australia features 12 esports teams based in Australia, utilising Australian players. Some of the region’s biggest names are present – including the Adelaide Crows-owned Legacy Esports, Blank Esports, Darksided, Masterminds GC and Tainted Minds. Alter Ego, JAM Gaming, Kanga Esports, Moonlight, Nocturnal Predators, Serenity and the Sydney Drop Bears are also fielding teams.
As far as players go, surprisingly few members of Australia’s previous two world cup squads are duking it out. Of the 2017 team that made the finals, only Marcus “Kiki” Jacob is participating in Contenders, as a member of Masterminds.
Jordan “Gunba” Graham is currently serving as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Valiant, while Ajay “Aetar” Umasankar, Jason “ieatuup” Ho, Ashley “Trill” Powell and Andrew “rqt” Haws are not present – despite being on Blank’s roster.
Only one member of the original 2016 team is playing too, with Jason “yuki” Stanton joining Kiki on Masterminds’ list.
The full rosters for each team can be found here.
The competition began on Monday, March 12 and runs across six weeks. Matches will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Sunday in weeks one and two, Monday and Tuesday in weeks three and five, while there is only one day of competition in weeks four (Tuesday) and six (Monday).
Matches are held at two-hour intervals, with the earliest games starting at 2pm (AEDT) and the latest beginning at 7pm (AEST).
The full schedule can be found here.
All of the Australian Overwatch contenders matches will be broadcast on a dedicated Twitch channel. The matches will get the full broadcast treatment too, with Ben “Sandman” Green and Jordan “Elfishguy” Mays set to provide commentary, opinion and analysis throughout the tournament.
The Overwatch contenders Twitch channel will also broadcast matches from some of the other continental competitions, while Twitch is also an option if you want to stream the Overwatch League itself.