In a little under a year, Blizzard has brought Overwatch onto the world stage not once but twice with the announcement of the second Overwatch World Cup. The World Cup took the competitive scene by storm, pitting countries against one another with custom picked rosters by fans and players alike. Big names like Seagull, IDDQD, and Muselk helped lead their teams through the gauntlet of unfamiliar team compositions, line ups and strategies from across the world. South Korea took the Cup after a sweep against runner up Russia, and now will have to defend their title as the Second World Cup changes the original mold.
Blizzard announced the 2017 Overwatch World Cup in a 4 Phase plan which seems to be in response to some balancing issues in the beginning qualifiers of the 2016 Cup. Rather than work through invitation, the Top 32 countries will be determined through averaging their Top 100 SR. Upon identifying the Top 32 countries for the cup, Blizzard will select a pool of 10 candidates for a National Committee, which will consist of three experts from the area in charge of picking the roster for the World Cup. According to the official blog post, these nominees bridge into the fields beyond seasoned players, and included analysts, coaches and statisticians among other professions throughout the esports community. It is the National Committee’s job to decide who from the top players in the country will represent their home on the live stage.
Unlike in 2016, the 2017 World Cup will consist of live qualifier rounds, including the final showdown at BlizzCon 2017. Throughout the summer in the major regions of the world, live qualifiers will be held to work down the brackets until each group stage is narrowed down to two teams which will automatically be qualified for the BlizzCon Finals. Each group stage consists of eight teams battling for the top spots which can be watch both online for free and in person with limited ticket sales starting in May.
The 2016 Overwatch World Cup saw both major surprises and upsets from fan favorite teams, and opened the door for new players to get their names heard and their feet wet on the stage at BlizzCon. This year looks to be an interesting shake up with the changes implemented by Blizzard, and will hopefully be another way to test the skill and limits of the competitive scene across the globe.