Three teams disqualified from OWCS in first group stage

Three teams disqualified from OWCS in first group stage
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch

Published 

7th Mar 2024 14:20

The European teams Rasperbbery Racers and Trkavnes (Deimpero) as well as the North American team Iliad Artemis, which had clinched qualification for Stage 1 of the Overwatch Championship Series have been disqualified, with three replacement teams that had finished just outside the qualification range taking their slots.

While no official specific reason was named other than a “breach of eligibility” some members of the affected teams are suspecting disputes around the residency rule.

Three teams out

On March 3rd, the Swiss Stage of OWCS concluded with 16 teams being selected for their performance during their nine matches. While the Toronto Defiant qualified with a clean score of 9-0, the cutoff reached as low as 7-2 after which secondary factors such as the Buchholz score were chosen to determine the top 16 ranks.

With groups already determined based on seeding derived from the Swiss Stage, competitors were already aware of the opposition they’d be facing starting March 8. 

However, a late eligibility check has unravelled the bracket, due to the seeding being disrupted by the open slots left by the disqualified teams, with every team moving up one slot into the gap each team had left.

The official Overwatch Esports Twitter account shared the news, explaining that admins had disqualified the three teams, citing illegibility issues. With the announcement of the OWCS, its rulebook was made public, outlining factors such as a Battle.Net or FACEIT account in good standing, a minimum age of 17, and sufficient travel documents for in-person competition, as well as the allowed countries to compete in each competition.

A potential explanation for Deimpero

With lasting international sanctions on Russia, including the IOC recommending against the participation of athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports at the Olympics, some organisers around the esports industry have barred Russian residents from participating in their competitions. Russia was also not mentioned as an eligible jurisdiction for the OWCS in any of its regions.

It is speculated that at least in the case of Deimpero who fielded Russian player Juzu, this exemption led to the disqualification of the team. Members of the team took to Twitter to voice their side of the matter, claiming that their player had contacted the admins with documents proving his current residence to be in Kazakhstan, a country that was eligible. While he had initially been barred from competing, the team alleges that the player had then been allowed to play only to be disqualified after the Group Stage matches had concluded.

In the official rules, a resident player is defined as a citizen, a lawful permanent resident, or a holder of special status such as a refugee or asylum station. “Non-immigrant (i.e: non-permanent) visas are not considered proof of residence,” the rules state.

At the time of writing, no official specific reason for the disqualification of any of the teams has been shared. GGRecon has reached out to Juzu as well as Blizzard Entertainment but did not receive an answer at the time of reporting.

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch is a Senior Esports Journalist at GGRecon. He's been creating content in esports for over 10 years, starting with Warcraft 3.

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