Further details regarding changes to the Overwatch Contenders format have been confirmed by Blizzard.
An official announcement has been made regarding the structure of Contenders for 2019 following several upcoming changes being leaked.
Most notably, the size of the various Contenders divisions will be reduced, from twelve teams down to just eight in most regions. This change has yet to be confirmed for China.
In North America, however, an additional Contenders division will be added, creating an “NA West” and “NA East” region, each of which will feature eight teams.
Meanwhile, a soft region lock will also be introduced in order to encourage teams to pick up local talent. Each team will have a maximum of three import slots. This will prevent scenarios such as Lucky Future Zenith, an all-Korean squad, dominating Contenders China in Season One and Two this year.
Going into the first season of 2019, only Overwatch League academy teams will be guaranteed a spot in their respective Contenders divisions. Existing Contenders teams not linked to an OWL franchise may have to re-qualify, regardless of their placement in the current Contenders Season Three.
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It was also previously reported that Contenders would no longer feature any offline playoffs. No announcement was made on this front in the official post, only stating that Blizzard are “continuing to evaluate opportunities for cross-region play at live events.”
A report by Richard Lewis for VP Esports also revealed a recording of a meeting between league operations and team managers in which details of the changes were discussed.