With details on the Overwatch League still shrouded in mystery, Blizzard announced Overwatch Contenders on Monday, a developmental league for prospective professional players in North America and Europe.
Season Zero will take place with a sign-up on the North American and European servers for an online qualifier that will determine the top eight teams in both regions, with a prize pool of $50,000 each. Blizzard did not provide a start date for this event but said it is “kicking off this summer.”
The top six North American teams from Season Zero of Overwatch Contenders will be joined in Season One by Rogue and EnVyUs, two teams currently competing in OGN’s Overwatch Apex in South Korea. In Europe, the top eight teams from Season Zero will compete in Season One. The seasons will include six weeks of round robin play, and the top four teams will then advance to offline semifinal brackets, each with a $100,000 prize pool.
Winning the tournament doesn’t seem to have any impact on a team’s status for Overwatch League, as the announcement reads that “with organizations looking to fill their rosters for the launch of the Overwatch League, all eyes will be watching this summer’s competitive showcase.”
Blizzard also announced the Overwatch Open Division, a separate tournament that will take place in regions around the world and, starting in 2018, will offer a path for teams to qualify for Overwatch Contenders.
The news comes at an interesting time, as over the past month Complexity, Red Reserve, Denial Esports, and Splyce have released their Overwatch rosters amid a stagnant scene with few details about Overwatch League. Team SoloMid also let go of its efforts to field a team even after finalizing a prospective roster.