Overwatch League Season 2 has ended with the San Francisco Spark coming out victorious. But admist all the roster announcements and new coaches in the offseason, it’s time to find out which country is truly the best at Overwatch.
The fourth annual Overwatch World Cup is the next Overwatch event to watch, and it’s just around the corner. The event will begin November 1 at BlizzCon, located in Anaheim, pitting the top 10 nations against each other for a chance to not only be crowned the winner, but also to bring honor and pride to their nation.
“Players hailing from the Overwatch League, Overwatch Contenders, and even Ranked Play, will put aside their professional rivalries to compete for the glory of their home countries. Of course, three-time reigning champion South Korea will try to hold onto their dynasty of digital dominance to bring home the Gold Medal once again, but the gap at the top is looking narrower than it ever has before,” Blizzard said.
It isn’t only each country’s improved talent that will make the World Cup different this year. According to an official press release, there will be a different tournament structure as well, offering a chance of “seeing more nations represented” at BlizzCon.
Unlike previous years, the entire tournament will now take place in Anaheim all within one week. Every eligible country can form a team to compete in a live broadcast tournament leading up to the Group Stage at BlizzCon.
Fans can watch their home country compete online in the Preliminary Rounds, which will feature an open single-elimination bracket. The Group Stage will begin on November 1 after BlizzCon’s Opening Ceremony, with several matches played simultaneously. That will result in the top six teams advancing to the single-elimination Playoffs. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals will be given out on Saturday in the BlizzCon Arena.
As can be seen in the Preliminaries, the top five ranked teams will receive byes, allowing them to automatically move on to the Group Stage. This is decided by a “weighted point-ranking system” based on each nation’s placement in the three previous World Cup tournaments. The points will also be weighted by how recent the placement was, ranging from 100% for 2018 to 25% for 2016.
The other five teams that will advance with these invited teams must compete in the Preliminaries for a spot. Any nation is allowed to compete, but only 10 will make it to the Group Stage.
While any country is allowed to compete in Anaheim, Blizzard has stated that they will only fund the top 10 countries: South Korea, Canada, China, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, Russia, and Finland.
This actually has disqualified some teams who cannot afford the trip. One of those teams was Poland, who made the announcement on Reddit this weekend.
“Sadly, Overwatch is not very big in Poland and our currency being very weak caused us to not be able to secure funds to send the players to the World Cup,” Team Poland general manager Kasia “Xandie” Janoszka explained to fans.
They aren’t alone. Romania, Egypt, Israel, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Greece, Peru, and Malaysia have also withdrawn from the Overwatch World Cup due to a lack of funding. Team Romania joked about their financial woes on Twitter, but the sad truth remains that many countries simply cannot send a team over to compete.
There are still some countries out there, including Japan, Chile, and Brazil, that are attempting to raise enough money to attend through sponsors, contests, show matches, and crowdfunding efforts.
These tactics have helped other teams raise the required funds. Austria was able to announce their participation thanks to merchandise sales, as did Norway. Germany relied on fundraising, and so did New Zealand. The Netherlands and India were able to announce their travel plans thanks to sponsors, and Mexico is able to attend after gaining sufficient fan support throgh social media. Italy, Ireland, Phillipines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Chinese Taipei, and Hong Kong will also be attending after raising enough funds.
This year, Overwatch fans voted on the general manager position for each nation. A list of each country’s committees can be seen here.
“We hope this will give you an even bigger voice to help shape how your team is created and managed all the way through the program,” Blizzard stated.
Despite getting the fan votes required to secure his position, Team USA head coach Aaron “Aero” Atkins was called “incompetent” by Atlanta Reign player Dusttin “Dogman” Bowerman. He even called him out during the Los Angeles Valiant’s Homestand Weekend in a post-match interview.
While it’s not hard to believe that many countries were able to raise money through jersey and merch sales after fans got a look at the official lackluster World Cup jersey designs, Hong Kong attending the event came as more of a shock.
Team Hong Kong officially announced that they would be attending last week, despite all of the backlash Blizzard has received over their censorship regarding the riots in Hong Kong. In fact, there will even be an organized protest outside of BlizzCon standing up against the developer’s censorship of its players and employees after Blizzard banned Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai from the Hearthstone Grandmasters competition for standing up for Hong Kong’s democracy.
According to the Hong Kong team, the Fire Dragons, BlizzCon will be a way for “everyone to see the faces of the the players on our team; the faces of Hong Kong people proud of representing their community.”
Even though many matches will be overlapping during the World Cup, every match will be fully covered live and broadcast in multiple languages.
“This year we will be bringing international coverage teams to BlizzCon to produce entertaining broadcasts onsite in multiple languages. These teams will have direct access for player interviews, and there will be opportunities for you to submit questions as well, bringing you to the sidelines of the action,” Blizzard added.
A list of livestream channels will be provided closer to the event, as well as a complete tournament schedule of the Group Stage once the results of Preliminaries are in.