Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League is expected to do a well-developed esports league with some very rich people, organizations, and endemic esports teams competing season after season for years to come. Every league like this needs a Challenger Series of sorts. This precisely what Overwatch Contenders, which had its open qualifiers end in Europe over the weekend, is.
In Europe and North America, hundreds of teams tried their skill and luck against hundreds of teams, both amateur and professional, to have a chance of gaining entry into the Overwatch Contenders league when the main Overwatch League starts. According to its official website overwatchcontenders.com, OW Contenders should be “the development league for aspiring Overwatch League professionals.” Season Zero started with an open signup tournament, where over 700 European and 600 NA teams competed for 16 spots in their respective region’s Group Stage.
Out of the 600 NA teams which entered the tournament, the 16 to move on were FaZe, LG Evil, FNRGFE, Kungarna, Renegades, Yikes, You Guys Get Paid?, Selfless, Cloud9, Immortals, Toronto Esports, Counter Logic Gaming, Tempo Storm, Envision, Hammers, and Team Liquid. Obviously, some of these orgs stand a much better chance than others. FaZe, LG, Renegades, Selfless, Cloud9, Immortals, CLG, Tempo Storm and Team Liquid should have better chances than the rest of their competition, despite orgs like Team Liquid, CLG, Immortals, and C9 failing to finish the open qualifiers in the top 8 of the best teams from NA to compete. If the orgs decide to actually dedicate a good chunk of their resources to make sure that their teams perform well, it should go better than the results would seem to indicate.
In Europe, even more teams, 700, participated in the open online qualifiers. From top to bottom of the Top 16, eUnited, Misfits, Movistar Riders, Singularity, 123, Laser Kittenz, Bazooka Puppiez, Vivi’s Adventure, Cyclowns, GamersOrigin, NWA, Team Expert, Alfa Squad, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Cyberathletes, and ESPORATI wer ethe lucky ones to make it to the next stage. Of course, just like in NA, not all of the teams stand good chances to achieve success. The more well-known orgs like eUnited, Misfits, Laser Kittenz and NiP obviously hold an advantage due to the comparatively bigger budgets and brand power these teams can bring to bear if they decide to get serious.
The rankings of these teams are not the be all and all of the true strength of these teams. Like in every other competitive endeavor, the luck of the draw exists. That does not diminish the achievements of these teams because they had to get through a truly exhausting weekend of Overwatch. Just like with every new endeavor which has the potential to be great or fail miserably, getting in on the ground floor is a very important thing for future success. The 32 teams that got through this open Contenders tournament intact made a big step forwards. It‘s just a pity that you won‘t really be able to join the Overwatch League itself by spending millions and millions of dollars to get there. But hey, at least the Overwatch League hasn‘t been started by the ruler of the Galactic Confederacy, Xenu.