The first season of the Overwatch League is in full swing, with the second of four stages wrapping up in decidedly hype fashion on Sunday. While fans await the start of Stage 3 on Wednesday April 4, Blizzard has some exciting news to keep the player base occupied: the Overwatch World Cup is returning for 2018, and it’s already time to get involved.
The full press release can be found here, and it details some interesting new processes this year. Countries will be chosen based on the average skill rating (SR) of their top 150 players—the 20 with the highest average rating will join group stage hosts France, Thailand, the United States, and South Korea in the full bracket of 24. If one of the initial four scores in the top 20—which they likely will—their “spot” on the list will pass to the 21st-highest-ranked country, and so on until 24 are chosen.
Also of note is the way in which “National Competition Committees” will be formed. These bodies will consist of a general manager, coach, and “community lead” for each country, selected through a variety of means. GMs will be chosen by Blizzard themselves, coaches will be endorsed and voted in by the top 150 players of each country, and community leads (of which there can be any amount) will be chosen by the country’s player base at large. Expect problematic figures like Canada’s xQc to make an appearance on these fan lists, but also note that Blizzard specifies only coaches that have accounts with “good standing” will be considered, and it’s likely that logic will apply to the other positions.
The National Competition Committees will be finalized by May 31, and open tryouts for the World Cup will begin on June 1 and last until July 5. Any player can try out, but with Overwatch League players also welcome, it will likely be a grueling proving ground. Once rosters are finalized, group stages will begin at some unspecified time in August, kicking off the competition schedule that will last until the finale in November, held in Southern California.
Last year’s Overwatch World Cup was a huge success ahead of the debut of the Overwatch League, introducing teams like Lunatic Hai—which would soon franchise as the Seoul Dynasty—and players like Houston Outlaws’ Jake and the LA Gladiators’ Surefour to the greater viewing public. The last year of Overwatch play has been an exciting affair, and there’s no telling who could emerge as a world-class talent this time.