Skip to main content

Overwatch Contenders teams ‘go on strike’ mid-broadcast

Overwatch Contenders teams ‘go on strike’ mid-broadcast

/

After a confusing competitive ruling from Blizzard ends a match prematurely, players stage a ‘strike’, refusing to play

Share this story

Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard is facing another walkout of sorts; this time, it’s players in the regional Overwatch Contenders tournament. After a competitive ruling ended a match prematurely, players in the European Overwatch Contenders Summer Series tournament refused to play.

In the off-week of the Overwatch League as teams rest up from the beautiful chaos of the Midseason Madness tournament last week, Blizzard ran an Overwatch Contenders tournament to fill the time. Just like Midseason Madness, the Overwatch Contenders Summer Series is a double-elimination tournament with a winner’s bracket and a loser’s bracket. Today’s European winner’s bracket final — the game that would determine which team would go on to the grand final and which team would fall to the loser’s bracket final — was between 01 Esports and Munich Esports and was, according to several players involved and the tournament’s rules website, listed as a best of seven.

In Overwatch League proper, it’s not typical for matches other than the grand finals to be a best of seven. Knowing that, a player from Munich Esports reached out to a Blizzard tournament administrator to confirm if the match was indeed best of seven and received confirmation and reassurance that the winner’s finals match was best of seven.

And with that, the two teams played.

Munich Esports went up 3-0, however 01 Esports hit the gas and started to turn it around winning the next two maps bringing the score 3-2. It’s here when all hell breaks loose.

Blizzard tournament admins abruptly called the match, citing that the game was intended to be a best of five, not a best of seven. Since Munich Esports was the first team to three maps, they were awarded the win. This caused a major and furious backlash against Blizzard on social media as players from Munich Esports and 01 Esports started sharing screenshots of conversations with tournament admins confirming that they had been told the match would be best of seven.

Since 01 Esports was immediately scheduled to play in the loser’s bracket against another team, they coordinated with their new opponents, Ex Oblivione, to essentially strike.

Aron “ANJ” de Jong, a main support player on 01 Esports, spoke to The Verge about what happened.

“Because of our loss, we had to play against Ex Oblivione in the losers bracket,” he said. “We made an agreement with them that this was unacceptable, and that Blizzard can’t treat the players like this. We agreed with Ex Oblivione to not play the game, but we wanted to make a statement so we decided to play the game but not actually compete.”

In the broadcast below, you can see that neither team is playing earnestly; players stand around and refuse to play the objective. It’s a fantastic bit of collective action that’s also pretty funny, especially as the casters start to realize that nobody’s taking this seriously.

After this demonstration, the broadcast was paused and subsequently ended. Shortly after that, a tweet from Ex Oblivione player Helv text of an in-game chat in which a tournament admin threatened to disqualify both teams if they refused to play.

Players and fans starting using the hashtag #ContendersStrike to bring attention to the issue, and it gained enough traction to become a trending topic on Twitter:

Twitter / The Verge

Overwatch Contenders did put out a statement on Twitter explaining what happened and the next steps.

Ex Oblivione and 01 Esports will not be disqualified for their demonstration, and Munich Esports and 01 Esports will be able to continue the match as a best of seven. Though this is players’ desired outcome, others feel that the miscommunication and subsequent fallout is indicative of a larger problem of Blizzard and its treatment of semi-pro Overwatch esports.

“[Blizzard] needs to own up to their lack of communication between Blizzard staff and the teams,” @kevhx_, general manager of Ex Oblivione, tells The Verge over Discord. “It happens way too often that we lack semi-critical information or receive it very late.”

Think of Overwatch Contenders as minor league baseball. It has its own structure, is run by third-party tournament organizers, and it’s the well from which future Overwatch League players are tapped. Unfortunately, players, coaches, and fans of Contenders feel like it’s not given the proper support from Blizzard, especially given that without a thriving amateur ecosystem, teams in the League would have a hard time finding talent to fill their ranks.

“It’s important to note that just this decision made by Blizzard isn’t the only reason for the out roar,” 01 Esports tank @kraandopOW tells The Verge in a DM. “Blizzard has done a polite put poor job at communicating with the [Contenders] participants and this felt like the last drop.”

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Two hours ago Dimorphos didn’t even see it coming

T
Thomas RickerTwo hours ago
Check out this delightful DART Easter egg.

Just Google for “NASA DART.” You’re welcome.


R
Twitter
Richard Lawler12:00 AM UTC
A direct strike at 14,000 mph.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) scored a hit on the asteroid Dimorphos, but as Mary Beth Griggs explains, the real science work is just beginning.

Now planetary scientists will wait to see how the impact changed the asteroid’s orbit, and to download pictures from DART’s LICIACube satellite which had a front-row seat to the crash.


M
The Verge
We’re about an hour away from a space crash.

At 7:14PM ET, a NASA spacecraft is going to smash into an asteroid! Coverage of the collision — called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test — is now live.


Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther WangSep 26
E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 26
There’s a surprise in the sky tonight.

Jupiter will be about 367 million miles away from Earth this evening. While that may seem like a long way, it’s the closest it’s been to our home planet since 1963.

During this time, Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye (but binoculars can help). You can check where and when you can get a glimpse of the gas giant from this website.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 26
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomSep 26
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?


R
Youtube
Richard LawlerSep 26
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomSep 26
Edward Snowden has been granted Russian citizenship.

The NSA whistleblower has been living in Russia for the 9 years — first as a refugee, then on a series of temporary residency permits. He applied for Russian citizenship in November 2020, but has said he won’t renounce his status as a U.S. citizen.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 26
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.


A
External Link
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.


J
James VincentSep 26
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.


Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
J
The Verge
James VincentSep 26
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.


E
External Link
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.


R
The Verge
Richard LawlerSep 26
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.