All Overwatch leagues explained | EarlyGame
A guide to OWL, Contenders, and Worlds

Overwatch esports leagues explained

Overwatch League Trophy
The Overwatch League trophy. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Overwatch doesn’t have one or two, but three officially endorsed esports leagues. Here’s a quick guide to get you up to speed in seconds!

While Overwatch is an incredibly fun game to play at home with 5 friends and blast your way through some colorful battlefields, it is also a high-profile esport with hundreds of players training and competing full time, all day long, for years. It’s one thing to get a Play of the Game on a Friday night, and an entirly different sensation to lift a trophy in front of thousands of roaring fans and win big cash in the process. These are the three ways serious Overwatch is being played.

Overwatch Contenders

Overwatch Contenders
Overwatch Contenders logo cut in half by Genji’s sword. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Overwatch Contenders is the entry to the world elite. Pro and semi-pro players from seven regions compete in hopes of making it to the Overwatch League. Many of the squads competing are Overwatch League Academy teams - sub-divisions of the biggest clubs in the world. You can get familiar with all of them here.

Contenders has two seasons per year. Each season is built of Contenders Trials followed by a Single-elimination tournamentand finally the Seasonal Playoff.

The combined prize pool for Contenders is $2,500,000.

The Overwatch League

Overwatch League Logo
The Overwatch League logo with Tracer in action. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment via YouTube.)

The Overwatch League (OWL) is structured very much like a typical American sports league such as the NBA or the NFL. 20 home-based teams compete every year in a frantic gauntlet. The players do not need to be locals to their respective cities (in fact there is more South Korean pros than any other nation currently), but their organizations need to have headquarters based in the city they are representing.

The Overwatch League is structured in weeks, with each team playing 28 games through the season and a mid-season All-Star break and concluding in a flashy Grand Finals.

The purse for the Overwatch League is twice as big as Contenders - $5,000,000.

Overwatch World Cup

Overwatch World Cup Logo
The 2019 Overwatch World Cup logo. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

The World Cup, much like the name suggests, is a competition based on nationality. Every country in Overwatch’s supported regions is able to qualify through a series of smaller tournaments and the big event concludes during BlizzCon every November in Anaheim, California. While offering a lesser prize pool than the OWL, the World Cup is a great source of pride for gamers all over the world and a format that’s really fascinating to watch - players who normally compete under different OWL teams band together in Worlds to represent their home country and this is always great to see.

There are no details for the 2020 edition of the World Cup revealed yet, so we’ll make sure to inform you if Blizzard Entertainment introduces any changes to the format.