Overwatch is getting its own World Cup, we learned last week, and it’s got a populist twist. Blizzard told us that when the time came, you would be able to vote for the players in your country’s team. Well, that voting process has now started. You can pick four players to represent your nation at BlizzCon in November by logging into Battle.net and going here. Why four and not six? Well, that’s because Blizzard are keeping the final two picks to themselves. In fact, when you look closely at the tournament, it looks like Blizzard aren’t relinquishing any control over the games at all.
The World Cup is structured like this: teams from the countries listed in the picture below will be created out of a mixture of Blizzard’s nominations and player voting. Blizz will round up the likely candidates (streamers, pros, etc), then you’ll pick your favourite four from your nation, then they’ll pick the other two. But in reality, it looks like they have the final say over the entire team, according to the official rules.
"One Player will be selected by Blizzard as the Captain of his/her National team and can suggest two additional Players for Blizzard’s consideration for his/her National Team. Thereafter, Blizzard then may invite six (6) Players at its discretion to form a team to represent that particular Eligible Country to compete in the Tournament ... Blizzard shall also designate the captain of each National Team from the players that Blizzard selects to compete on a National Team."
Importantly, those rules state that the public is voting on who they would "recommend" go through. So, really, it's not a vote, it's a recommendation.
But then everyone dukes it out in a big international rumble, right! Well, no. They don’t. Because, as we previously pointed out, the United States, Canada, Brazil, China, South Korea and Team ANZ (a joint team made up of Australia & New Zealand) will all go through to the top 16 finals automatically. All the other countries will duke it out for their place at the table.
This rather odd arrangement is due to “a variety of factors, including server locations, regional infrastructure and connectivity, and other geographical considerations,” says Blizzard.
There’s no suggestion that this is any purposeful attempt at making the competition uneven. It’s just that whatever these “geograpical considerations” are, Blizzard isn’t telling us. It might be ridiculously complicated networking issues – but if that is the case, why does it affect the finals, when everyone will be in the same country, nay, the same building - at BlizzCon? Were any alternative competition methods considered? We’ve pinged them for an answer and will let you know if we get one.
In the mean time, you can still exercise your (ultimately non-binding) rights by "voting" for your favourite players. I just picked my four according to the characters they main. It’ll be a very tanky UK team if I get my way.