Overwatch League announces big changes for 2023 season with Contenders teams and new format

Overwatch League

The Overwatch League has announced some major changes coming in the 2023 season with Contenders teams being able to compete for the first time ever.

The 2023 Overwatch League season circuit is set to begin in March, but this time, there will be even more teams spread through the East and West thanks to a new structure involving Spring and Summer stages.

Much like past seasons, the 2023 installment will also feature a Mid-season tournament and the grand finals at the end to crown a champion, but how we get there will be a bit different this time around.

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While there is still much uncertainty about Chinese teams heading into the competition, OWL head Sean Miller has ensured fans that they are “working directly with teams to ensure minimal disruption in their preparation for the season” after services were shut down in China.

OWL 2023 format revealed

Starting in 2023, league standings will no longer be determined by points, but rather by overall record in regional qualifiers. In both regions, the Spring Stage qualifiers determine seeding for the Spring Stage Knockouts and, in the West, will also qualify two teams for the Midseason Madness Global Tournament.

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Competitive play will officially return on March 23 with a three-week pro-amateur tournament in the West featuring both OWL and Contenders teams in a 20-team field. The six Contenders teams from the NA and EMEA regions will be determined by a series of tournaments scheduled for late February.

From there, the 20 teams will be split into four groups of five teams for two weeks of round-robin group play, which will lead to an eight-team single elimination bracket. The winner of the pro-am tournament will earn $100,000.

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Meanwhile, in the East, there will be a series of regional tournaments in South Korea, Asia-Pacific (APAC), and Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) with Open Division and Contender teams to determine 12 sides that will compete in Spring Stage Opens. The top teams from this stage will join the East’s Overwatch League teams for Spring Stage Knockouts.

In both regions, Overwatch League circuit play is scheduled to begin on April 27.

Overwatch League stageBlizzard
The Overwatch League returns in 2023.

The Midseason Madness LAN tournament will then feature the top four teams from the West (two from both Spring Stage Qualifiers and the Spring Stage Knockouts) and two in the East competing in a six-team double elimination bracket. So far, it’s not known where the event will take place.

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Once that is done, the Summer Stage will commence and mirror the Spring format. While the West will jump into Circuit play right away, select top finishers among Contenders teams in the East will qualify for Summer Stage Qualifiers.

More information will be shared in the weeks ahead, but it’s looking like the 2023 OWL season will be one for the ages.

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