After the emotionally charged conclusion of the previous Overwatch League season, Blizzard has unveiled its plans for a new era of competitive Overwatch.
The Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS) represents a partnership between Blizzard and the ESL FACEIT Group, a leading company in the esports and gaming industry. OWCS will encompass three regions: North America, EMEA, and Asia, with two international LAN tournaments in 2024 where the world’s top teams will once again compete on the stage.
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Blizzard has unveiled plans for a new era of competitive Overwatch
Unlike the Overwatch League, the previous tournament cycle for Overwatch 2, which featured teams with formal sponsorship agreements, player contracts, and team branding, OWCS will adopt a new model.
- The OWCS model focuses on “providing greater opportunities for players to become professionals and implementing new platforms to streamline Overwatch esports operations,” according to Blizzard’s statement.
This means that OWCS is likely to have a less “exclusive” approach, making it easier for aspiring players to pursue a professional career. The new tournament aims to support teams and players at all levels of the Overwatch competitive community. The community-oriented initiative is a key part of ESL FACEIT’s mission, emphasizing “vibrant, unifying experiences” in major esports disciplines, according to the company’s website.
OWCS will encompass three regions: North America, EMEA, and Asia. The regional leagues in North America and EMEA will be managed by EFG, while WDG, the Korean tournament organization that has assisted in running Overwatch Contenders Korea, is preparing to oversee the league in Asia. Blizzard has stated that another goal of the OWCS structure is to encourage consistent “ever-active” events, providing a framework for team growth and development.
Open qualifications for the OWCS tournament
Following open qualifiers and subsequent OWCS tournaments (in each regional league), the top teams from each league will compete in a major international tournament in Dallas during the summer. The competitive season will conclude with the final tournament in Sweden in November, marking the return of premier Overwatch tournaments to Europe after a long absence. Each LAN tournament will feature eight teams.
The expected differences between OWL and OWCS may lead to an even greater emphasis on the gaming community compared to major sponsors and star players leading the competitions. It remains to be seen which former OWL stars will pick up the mouse and keyboard once again to revive their careers within the framework of OWCS.
“OWCS ushers in a new era in Overwatch, while preserving the traditions and passion established by this discipline,” said Craig Levine, Co-CEO of ESL FACEIT Group, in a press release.
It is encouraging to see that Blizzard has not abandoned competitive Overwatch. Details regarding regional open qualifiers can be found on the OW2 website.