Overwatch To Get World Cup But United States, China And Others Will Qualify For ‘Top 16’ Automatically

A wise ice nerd once said “Our world is worth fighting for.” But the world is also worth fighting against, if Blizzard are to be believed. The developers have recently announced that their team shooter Overwatch [official site] will be getting a World Cup competition and that the finals will be held at BlizzCon in November. But almost a third of the teams won’t even have to qualify to get through to the final games. The US, China, Australia and others will all go through unchallenged. But before we explain that weirdness, let’s look at how the tournament is structured.

Firstly, what does this mean for you as an Overwatch pleb? Well, you get to pick who goes into your country’s team. Sort of. You see, Blizzard will be nominating and selecting a bunch of eligible players. Those selected will include “a mix of representatives from each participating country, pro gamers, skilled community personalities from the area, and local players who’ve climbed the ranks in Season 1 of Competitive Play”. In other words, good players from your nation.

On August 11, you’ll be able to vote for people out of your national line-up who you want on your country’s team. It’s unclear where you’ll go to do this, but your Battle.net account will be necessary and you’re limited to voting on the make-up of the country in which your account is based.

After that, in September, there’ll be online matches to decide who qualifies – a best of three single-elimination round. Sixteen teams will emerge from this conflict, say Blizzard, and go onto BlizzCon to fight for the Cup in November. There’s no prize for the winner at the end of it all, however, just the glory of being the world’s most annoying Tracer, the globe’s most debilitating Mei. But Blizzard are paying for the players’ trips to the tournament and convention when they qualify for the top 16, so hopefully that won’t exclude too many people for money reasons.

However, there are teams which will automatically qualify to the competition at BlizzCon. The United States, Canada, Brazil, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand will go through to the November games no matter what. They are automatically advancing “due to a variety of factors, including server locations, regional infrastructure and connectivity, and other geographical considerations,” says Blizzard. It’s unclear if this means they have to play in the qualifiers anyway, or not. So the top 16 really looks like the top 9, plus 7 teams that qualified by default. Hardly an ideal set up, is it?

Blizzard have also said that the qualifying matches will be built so that a fair representation of the globe comes out of it all.

“To ensure that all major regions of the world are well-represented at BlizzCon,” they say, “the sixteen teams competing there will include six from the Europe game region, six from the Asia-Pacific game regions, and four from the Americas.

But if this is true, it means that, out of the four American teams, only one will actually be there by virtue of its own triumph. After all, three of them – the US, Canada, and Brazil – are guaranteed a place. Six other teams in that region are basically scrapping for the final place in their hemisphere. The same scenario is repeated on the APAC side. I’m not saying Blizzard doesn’t have valid internetz reasons to build it like this, but it’s not exactly in the spirit of a true ‘World Cup’.

I’m sitting here in Costa Rica (don’t ask) and I’m hoping that there are enough agile Lucio’s and strong Reinhardts here to put this small country on the Overwatch map. But I’ll also be rooting for my home country of Ireland. I hope they don’t meet in the streets of Dorado. I won’t know who to cheer for. What about you? Where do you hail from? Who do you want on your team?


  1. Zankman says:

    Yeah the qualifying system is a bit odd and sub-optimal, but, having a World Cup in an E-Sport is great, so, I am happy that it is happening regardless.

    I’ll be rooting for Serbia, obviously; since I am not a true Serbian aka am not a xenophobic nationalist, I’ll also be rooting for Croatia and Hungary.

    • Baines says:

      It is odd and sub-optimal for finding the best players.

      It is more optimal for what Blizzard wants, which is not necessarily to find the best players, but rather to make sure that several large money-making countries will have a presence in the finals.

      • Zankman says:

        Well, true, fair enough.

        I just doubt that those countries would fail qualify in the first place (except for NZ).

        • LewdPenguin says:

          NZ and Aus I can get giving a pass to for lolinternets reasons, and perhaps Brazil too, but the rest make no sense really. If you have an Americas bracket then surely you’re guaranteed a US team…

        • Baines says:

          Sure, you can look at each country and expect them to qualify. But upsets are a reality, and good teams sometimes just have off days. Blizzard wants a guarantee that its chosen countries make the finals regardless of performance, because while Slovakia somehow bumping the US from finals would make a Cinderella story, losing the US would cause a much greater drop in interest than Slovakia’s ascension would create.

        • AngoraFish says:

          “Aus and NZ” often just ends up meaning Australia-only given NZ’s much smaller player base. Combining the two countries can be just as much a way of excluding NZ players as is the case for every other country not on Bizzard’s core countries list.

      • Syt says:

        Not sure how lucrative Brazil is over, say, UK or Germany.

        • Jediben says:

          Right now? With the potential for residual free coverage due to the Olympics?

  2. Thurgret says:

    I must ask: Costa Rica?

  3. RaunakS says:

    I’m kinda surprised that India is nowhere on the map. In a country this size I’m certain there are more than enough players than in, say, Luxembourg. Maybe the BSNL server infrastructure is terrible, which is entirely true.

    • Zankman says:

      India has 0 E-Sports presence; poverty and poor internet infrastructure will do that.

      • jrodman says:

        Hey now, I’ve watched “southeast asia” regional tournaments and so on for DOTA 2, and India definitely fielded teams.

        Sure, they came in after South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, and Vietnam, but hey it’s a much bigger presence than New Zealand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, East Timor, North Korea, or Papua New Guinea.

  4. Monggerel says:

    Minor correction, Mei’s actual quote goes like this:

    “Ou̵R̴ W̡o͟RL̕D is̷ ̢wOR҉tH ͘R̸AMmìńG ̛Thi̴s ̵J̸A̧gG͜ed͢ i̸cI͘c҉L͢e iN̷t͡O҉ ̨Y͠o͡U͘r OC͏ular caVI҉ty ͢and͠ ̧o̴u͝T tḩR̛oU͏Ģh͢ The b̛A҉C͡k of̨ yo͜uR̛ ̴S̷KúLĺ f͞Or”͞

  5. Shadow says:

    It’s funny how in order to “ensure that all major regions of the world are well-represented at BlizzCon”, for Latin America they’ve guaranteed access to exactly the ‘odd one out’, the least representative country of the region.

    • jrodman says:

      Odd one out in terms of size, economy, language, culture, other factors, or everything together?

      • Shadow says:

        Mainly language and culture. Brazil might be the largest country in the continent after the United States, but as far as Latin America goes, it only encompasses a third of the population. Most of Latin America is Spanish-borne, so Brazil is the most dissonant choice if the alleged intent is to make sure the region is properly represented.

        • Shadow says:

          It’s sort of like ensuring Russia’s qualification to enforce “proper” European representation, assuming it’s representative purely because it’s the largest country in the region.

        • jrodman says:

          Oh well. Belatedly, I was hoping for some educational flavor here. I’m certainly aware of the language divide.

          However, as a US native and resident, I had the vague idea that while Brazil may be the odd one out, it would have greater cultural overlap with some of its neighbors due to various factors than say neighbors the United States & Mexico.

          As an aside, if you’re including North & South America as one continent, I sure would believe that Canada is rather larger than the United States (though perhaps you meant population-wise.)

          Overall, it does seem that Latin-American esports have not gotten much of the spotlight so far, despite clearly having enough top-tier talented players. It seems like some of this is economics (access). But, I also think there’s a bit of a language barrier too.

          Top-tier players from anywhere in the world who are competent in English end up playing on teams all over the world. Players from Kazakhstan to South Korea, Estonia, Jordan, or South Africa have all joined squads based in various parts of the world. Only in really strong regions with large populations are teams resisting this and speaking a local language while playing (South Korea, China, some Russia/CIS mostly). I’m sure there’s a sufficient set of population from Mexico to Argentina who would be comfortable enough to easily communicate in game chat (with some possible adjustment) that it could happen, but it doesn’t feel like there’s the exclusionary attitude that other groups who would resist English would have. I’m suspicious that a rising Latin American Esports culture might find itself blending into or developing a fuzzy boundary with the greater English-speaking Esports team continuum. It’s not like it demands high fluency or anything.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    I for one think we (Ireland) should send Jedward.

    • Hobbes says:

      Oh no…

      Oh noooooooo…

      No, no, nooooo.. Wasn’t eurovision enough damage? You want to punish Blizzard with them as well?

  7. ikehaiku says:

    I don’t know…
    I’m one the “I frankly do not give a single crap about where a team is from” guy.
    Be it in Overwatch, or the recent announcement for a CS:Go World-Cup tourney.
    I root for a player, or for a team, not for a nation.

    To me, that is the dumbest thing one can do for e-sport.
    To each his own I guess.

    • Beefenstein says:

      “I root for a player, or for a team, not for a nation.”

      So if that player or team represents a nation then there is no problem at all.

      • ikehaiku says:

        When I say player – it’s in 1v1 games. Like, I like snute, or Maru in Starcraft. Does it mean I’ll root for Norway or Korea? Well, why would I?
        I also root for PsyStorm, or Root. But, like any other team in any sport, they aren’t bound to nationality. There won’t be a [insert your favorite team] in a World-Cup tournament, so, why would I watch? Why would I take any interest in that tourney? It’s not like it’d be a team that will play together all year long anyway?

        • jrodman says:

          Sometimes it can be hard to connect with pro gamers from another region because of cultural factors. You might like their playstyle but find their social behavior off-putting, or difficult to read.

          Sometimes the personalities are really part of what makes people become fans. And sometimes the cultural factors can bleed through into the gameplay in a way that causes similar fandom problems even for those who aren’t interested in the player beyond the game.

          Just saying there are other factors besides regional pride that lead people to want to see someone doing well that has locality to themselves.


          Personally, I find it hard to be a fan of a big esports event when all the teams or players are from a region I have little cultural connection to. Starcraft for me has always been about the clash of player styles which is typically fascinating (for me) regardless of player personality, but there some other team games where an all-Korea semi-finals has taken a lot out of the interest for me.

  8. emotionengine says:

    Didn’t know that Israel and South Africa were part of Europe until now, thanks for educating me, Blizzard. Maybe they can apply for EU membership, I heard they’ll be a vacancy soon.

    Let me return the favour and suggest you call this what it is and name it the Overwatch First World Cup. You’re welcome, Blizzard.

    • Pich says:

      Israel almost always participates in european competitions. mostly beccause everyone in the middle east hates their guts.

  9. CloneWarrior85 says:

    Well, this should be interesting, i will love to read the news about how the pre-qualified teams lost miserably to those who fought their way up to the top.

  10. Droniac says:

    The 6 remaining American nations have exactly as much chance to go through as any European nation: 1 in 6. The remaining Asian nations actually have the best chance to go through: 1 in 4.5.

    Still, this system is silly. Without this pre-qualified setup you’d certainly see more than 6 “European” nations qualify.

  11. Neutrino says:

    That’s a really shitty competition setup that seems to exist purely to favour Blizzard’s market demographic. Just as well I couldn’t care less about Overwatch.