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The Overwatch League World Cup is back

The Overwatch League World Cup is back

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After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic and Blizzard’s legal issues, the Overwatch World Cup will return in 2023.

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Photo from 2019 Overwatch World Cup in which the gold medalist team, the US, hold up the World Cup trophy.
Photo: Carlton Beener / Blizzard Entertainment

After a three-year hiatus, the Overwatch World Cup is back. The event was announced over the weekend, possibly in a cute nod to the dramatic FIFA World Cup nail-biter final and to coincide with a special Overwatch League veterans competition (which you should watch if you want to see how the GOATs of Goats played in addition to feeling the emotions names like Runner, Bumper, Ryujehong, and Esca will evoke in fans of the Apex Tournament days).

Starting in January with the announcement of the 36 countries Blizzard is choosing to participate in the tournament, individuals can apply to be a member of their country’s committee covering roles like community lead, general manager, and coach. Traditionally, the committee members would then arrange tryouts for teams, but this year, Blizzard is organizing a World Cup Trials mini-tournament whereby winners can guarantee themselves a spot in tryouts. If you miss the Trials, no worries: players ranked diamond and above on the competitive ladder can apply to be a part of the regular tryout process that takes place starting in March.

The first qualifiers of the World Cup will take place online starting in June, whittling down the field of 36 teams to 16. From there, the 16 teams will compete on LAN, with the final eight teams battling it out in the finals. Typically, the Overwatch World Cup finals were one of the capstone events of Blizzcon. While the World Cup announcement post did not mention that the finals would be held during BlizzCon explicitly, the re-arrival of the tournament coincides with the company’s announcement that it would revive the popular convention in 2023. BlizzCon took several years off due to the covid pandemic before shifting to an online format in 2021. In 2022, Blizzard forwent BlizzCon altogether, seemingly in light of the company’s harassment and discrimination lawsuits.

The Overwatch World Cup is one of the premier competitive Overwatch events. The World Cup is extremely exciting to watch in that it exposes viewers to the great wealth of talent outside the regions that dominate the League — China, Canada, Europe, South Korea, and the US — offering those players the opportunity to win recognition for their country and potential scouting. The World Cup is also far, far more fun to watch as an observer as the level of passion fans have for their fellow countrymen defies description. You have not lived as a competitive Overwatch fan until you’ve seen the French sing for their team during 2018’s World Cup.

With the return of the World Cup, the successful conclusion to Overwatch’s first underrepresented gender tournament, Calling All Heroes, and the news the post-season of this year’s Overwatch League season broke previous viewing records, it seems like competitive Overwatch is clawing its way back to a healthier, more engaging state.