OWL fans left utterly confused by 2023 Playoffs format: “Worst bracket ever constructed”

Overwatchy League Champions trophyRobert Paul/Blizzard

Overwatch League fans have been left completely confused by 2023’s Playoffs format as a new bracket is being used, with Hangzhou Spark once again being snubbed as a first seed.

As the Overwatch League 2023 regular season ends with the qualifying Playoff teams decided, all focus for OWL fans is now on the upcoming Playoffs and Grand Finals happening in Toronto. 

However, coming into the tournament, fans have been left more bewildered by the confusing format rather than focusing on the spectacle of the major end-of-year tournament.

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From the jam-packed puzzling brackets to the questions surrounding how APAC’s first seed team was picked, and Seoul Infernal’s perplexing drafts, it’s certainly a head-scratcher.

Overwatch League fans confused by new 2023 Playoffs format

Upon the eighth team qualifying, the bracket was revealed to the community on September 17. Despite the format already being revealed when the host city was announced, this was many fans first look into the bracket.

The tournament will split the eight teams into two groups of four. Each group will then go through a double-elimination bracket with the top two teams from each being placed into a separate bracket. 

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The top four teams will then be placed into the Grand Finals bracket, a single-elimination bracket. From there, the winner will be determined, with the losers of the first round matches of the bracket fighting for a third-place match. Get all that?

This new format is a departure from the previous year’s formats which placed all the teams in a double-elimination bracket.

“If OWL is going out, it’s going out with one of the worst brackets ever constructed for competition,” said one viewer under OWL’s Twitter post. “This bracket/selection format is a war crime,” another commented.

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Hangzhou Spark snubbed of APAC first seed again

Equally as confusing for fans is the seeding for APAC teams. The first seed of the West and East will be allowed to draft their groups before the tournament, which they did live on the OWL broadcast.

However, fans noticed a problem. Hangzhou Spark, who qualified as the first seed from the East Knockouts, was not given the first seed. Rather it was Seoul Infernal. 

Seoul Infernal topped APAC’s regular season, which was how the seeds were determined, however, it was not made clear to audiences if the first seed from APAC would be decided by the team’s regular season performances or by the East Knockouts, which are two separate standings.

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This created confusion, as for APAC to qualify for the playoffs directly, the top two teams would have needed to top the East Knockout groups. If it were based on the regular season performances, Dallas Fuel would have been the second seed, with Spark being put into the Play-Ins. 

Hangzhou Spark, which topped the East Knockouts, is the second seed. Seoul Infernal, who topped the regular season but second in the East Knockouts, is the first seed. And Dallas Fuel, who got second in the regular season and qualified through Play-ins, is the third seed.

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Spark’s snub of a first seed is not their first as the team was also snubbed in this year’s Midseason Madness, qualifying as the APAC second seed rather than the first as they should have.

OWL fans confused by Seoul Infernal’s drafts

Causing even more confusion was Infernal’s group drafts. Infernal, while drafting, decided to put London Spitfire in the other group, which left them a group with Houston Outlaws, Florida Mayhem, and Dallas Fuel. 

These are respectively, the runner-up of 2023’s Midseason Madness, the West’s third seed that eliminated them from Midseason Madness, and the team that won 2022’s Grand Finals.

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This meant Infernal intentionally drew a harder group for themselves, meanwhile, Atlanta Regin was gifted with an arguably easier group. 

“Infernal how you fumble this hard?” questioned Bad Pachimari, an OWL content creator. With Spitfire’s Twitter account thanking Infernal, “We would like to thank the Infernal for letting us dodge Houston and Florida.”

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