League and CS:GO have dominated the Oceanic esports scene for the last few years, but Blizzard are looking to shake things up.
The first season of Overwatch Contenders Australia saw popular organisations like Legacy, DarkSided and Masterminds battle it out against independent talent like Serenity, Alter Ego and Noc Predators. With a final LAN taken out by the very okka-sounding Sydney Drop Bears, Contenders Australia exploded out onto the scene, and in Season 2 it’s only going to get bigger.
Presented by ESL Australia. Overwatch Contenders is a 6 week league, where 12 teams from around Australia duke it out for regional pride, international visibility, and one of the biggest prize pools in Oceania. While there’s no direct promotion from Contenders into the hallmark franchise, the Overwatch League, it’s used as a breeding ground for regional talent. The prize pool is around $60,000, with the winners taking home a handy $10,000 cheque.
The format sees the teams battle it out in a 4 map series. They play one of each style of map:
- Control – which requires teams to capture a point and hold it;
- Hybrid – which requires attackers to capture a payload and escort it;
- Assault – which requires attackers to capture 2 separate control points and;
- Escort – which requires attackers to escort a payload through the map before time runs out.
The team who completes each map the fastest wins the map. If the series is tied 2-2 after the Escort map, teams play out a tiebreaker Control map to settle the score. Season 2 of Contenders Australia sees a complete new map set across the board, including the first competitive appearance of Overwatch’s newest Escort map, Rialto.
Similar to how the OPL used to work, teams can qualify for Contenders through the amateur Open Division scene. The top 4 Open Division teams got a chance to prove themselves at Trials against the bottom 4 Contenders teams from the previous season. Season 2 Trials saw Tainted Minds, Serenity and Surge Esports Club retain their spots, while amateur team Bin Chickens knocked out Alter Ego from the top division.
Those weren’t the only changes to the Australian Contenders scene over the break. JAM Gaming sold their spot to Avant Gaming, who make a resurgence into the scene after disbanding in 2016. Noc Predators also sold their spot to Dignity, an independent organisation run by ExpressOnRs, a top 500 player from Canada. The Masterminds of old have disbanded, with the org running a completely new unannounced roster for the 2nd rendition of the tournament.
The top 4 teams from Contenders Australia Season 2 will play off in a best of 7 finals series at the Melbourne Esports Open in September this year. Masterminds, DarkSided and Blank Blue – who all made the Season 1 finals – are yet to reveal their rosters, and a possible shakeup could see new teams heading off to Melbourne.
You can expect more Overwatch Contenders content from Snowball in the lead up to the season starting on on July 2, with games on every Monday and Tuesday afternoon starting from 12pm AEST. You can catch the action on Twitch.