Overwatch is going to the farm.
Blizzard announced Overwatch Contenders today, a development system for its planned Overwatch League. The Overwatch League is Blizzard’s esports organization for its hit team-based shooter. It plans to have teams based in major cities around the world, with players earning a money from contracts. The competition starts on May 22.
But just like in real sports, you can improve the quality of your players if you have some kind of a farm system where aspiring top-level pros can compete against each other. Overwatch Contenders is like its Triple-A league.
Overwatch will complete its first year on the market on May 23. In that short time, it has attracted over 30 million players and become popular in the esports market, which market researcher firm Newzoo predicts will grow to a $696 million business in 2017. It’s also a paid game, not free-to-play, so all of those players spent money ($40 for the base version on PC, $60 on console) upfront.
The first season of Contenders, which Blizzard is calling Season Zero, will have open signups. Online-only qualifiers will determine the top eight teams in North America and European regions with separate tournaments. Each one will have a prize pool of $50,000. The large Asia region, meanwhile, is not a part of these first seasons.
Season One will then have those top teams fighting against each other in more tournaments, giving them a chance to play competitive matches regularly. It also gives Overwatch League team owners a chance to scout out additions for their rosters.