Blizzard announces OWL successor, the 'Overwatch Championship Series'
Blizzard Entertainment and third-party tournament organisers ESL FACEIT Group (EFG) have announced the new outline for the competitive structure of Overwatch esports. Under the new umbrella of the so-called "Overwatch Championship Series" (OWCS), the multi-year agreement is described as building a competitive ecosystem from the ground up.
On top of regional competitions, two international events at Dreamhack Dallas and Dreamhack Stockholm will be the venue for international play for OWCS.
Overwatch esports is regionalising. According to a press release by EFG, the OWCS will host regional competition in three respective markets, namely North America and Asia as well as Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa (EMEA).
As GGRecon had reported in September, EFG will be organising the competition in North America and EMEA, while WDG esports is handling the Asian region.
The best teams from each region will be able to qualify for international play. How the regional breakdown of three regions into eight available slots per international event will work has not been shared yet.
Two international events
The OWCS will have annual high points with two Dreamhack events inviting teams from the three regions to fight it out. Kicking off interregional play with Dreamhack Dallas in late May, the competitive format has been revealed to be a double-elimination tournament running over three days.
The World Finals will take place at Dreamhack Stockholm starting November 22, marking the first international offline event in competitive Overwatch since before the launch of the Overwatch League. Dreamhack Stockholm is part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the company, returning to the Swedish capital for the first time since 2018.
Within the EFG portfolio, the Dreamhack event format is seen as a less hardcore esports product and as more of an open gaming festival with various gaming-related activities from BYOC to expo areas to cosplay and influencers taking place, with esports happening in between.
The announcement also shared that the matchmaking and tournament platform FACEIT would also be folded into the OWCS system, offering “a rich and consistent schedule of events and content that creates a clear path to pro play for aspiring OWCS stars” according to the press release.
In Counter-Strike, the platform is known for its own 3rd-party matchmaking experience that offers an alternative to the regular ranked play experience within the CS client. It also offers the potential for other smaller organisers to use the website's infrastructure to support their events.
The competitive calendar for 2024 kicks off in February in Asia for the Stage 1 Qualifiers and Round Robin + LCQ events with NA and EMEA following suit in March.
For the North American and EMEA region, Week 1 of active play will start in a Swiss stage format until the top 16 teams in each region have been determined. In weeks 2 and 3, teams will be split into four groups with the top two advancing to the main event in week 4 which is then played in the double elimination bracket format. The top-placing teams will then be invited to Dreamhack Dallas.
The same three-month-long pattern will repeat once more starting in August, culminating in the World Finals in Stockholm. How qualifications will be handled for each event has yet to be shared.