With the 2020 Overwatch League featuring a home and away game structure, changes will also be coming to Contenders. As the Contenders Gauntlet is happening in Korea, the next season of Contenders will replace the league system with bi-weekly tournaments. This means less security for teams that do not perform well, as they can be demoted in a shorter time frame.
The Overwatch Contenders league is a professional Overwatch tournament hosted by Blizzard Entertainment for those trying to enter the Overwatch League. It’s similar to Riot Games’ League of Legends Academy league. However, not all teams participating in Contenders are academy teams of the respective Overwatch League franchise teams like it is with the LCS.
Many current teams in the Overwatch League have signed players from Contenders. For example, the Vancouver Titans signed the entire roster of team RunAway from Overwatch Contenders Korea. Other players have also been promoted from regions that include Australia, North America, South America, South Korea, China, and Europe.
As mentioned before, the first major change will be the replacement of the current league system. The regions will also split into two sections or conferences like the current Overwatch League, which consists of the Atlantic and Pacific. With the new bi-weekly tournament system, teams will accumulate points by participating in Contenders matches. By achieving a certain amount, teams will qualify for a regional playoffs event.
During the start of 2020, all of the 2019 Season 2 Overwatch Contenders teams will be invited to a preliminary double-elimination tournament. This is to determine each team’s seeding for Season 3. The top four teams will advance to their respective region’s first tournament quarterfinals as seeds 1 – 4. On the other hand, the bottom four teams will instead go into Contenders Trials as seeds 1 – 4.
To determine the eight teams that will compete in Contenders Trials, the 2020 schedule will start with an Open Division season. This will be available for every region and open to all Overwatch players, without restriction on skill level. The initial 7-week event will dictate the teams qualifying or being demoted to each region’s Trials teams. Afterward, the first week of Contenders Trials will begin, which consists of 12 teams competing in a single-elimination bracket. These 12 teams include the top 8 teams from Open Division and bottom 4 from Contenders.
In a scattered tile-like formation, Contenders Trials will take place one week with Contenders in the next, along with Open Division in the middle. The regular Contenders league will consist of the top 4 Contenders teams and top 8 Contenders Trials teams, determined by the weeks before. These are the only tournaments where points are awarded, whereas the Trials league is just for qualifying into Contenders. The top four teams will remain in the bracket, while the bottom eight will have to fight for their chance to re-enter in the following week’s Contenders Trials.
This process repeats itself until the top 8 teams compete in a double-elimination regional playoffs tournament to crown each region’s Contenders champion. There will then be another season of Contenders in 2020, just like how League of Legends is split up into Spring and Summer Splits. This way, there are 2 championship teams per region.
Other information regarding Contenders Gauntlet or Showdowns has not been disclosed yet, other than the fact that the events will return. In addition, there is no further information about prize pools or physical event locations. Future updates will be posted to the Overwatch Path to Pro Twitter.
Disclosure: Enthusiast Gaming owns Daily Esports and a stake in the Vancouver Titans.