Long after initially teasing it back with the Contenders announcement, Blizzard has officially announced the Overwatch Open Division. The Open Division will serve as Overwatch's development league for players Masters rank or higher, and, in the future, will grant opportunities for its top teams to advance into the Contenders League.
Players are eligible to compete in the inaugural season of the Overwatch Open Division if they finished Season 4 at 3500 SR or higher. For players who missed the cut this time around, there will be future seasons of Open Division play using future seasons of competitive play for eligibility. Signups are open now for both teams and lone free agents and will close on June 22, with rosters locking on June 30.
The regions of play for the Open Division's first season will be Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, Latin American Spanish Speaking Countries, Brazil, Australia/New Zealand, and Southeast Asia, with plans to add more regions for future seasons. The official rules includes potential spoilers for those future regions, as it includes a Nordic Region, Japan Region, Taiwan Region, China Region, and a South Korea Region.
Teams will play a best-of-seven series each week for eight weeks from Sunday, July 9 to Sunday, August 20. Each series will be played in a map order of Control / Escort / Assault / Hybrid / Control / Escort / Hybrid. The season will be played in a Swiss Format, meaning that each week a team will be play another with the same record. At the end of eight weeks, the top eight teams advance to the playoffs. Any tiebreakers needed to cut down the number of teams to eight will be held in a best-of-three format.
Teams are allowed to have up to eight players and may substitute players in between maps during matches, stamping Blizzard's seal of approval on the this past season of APEX's rule changes. The prizes at the end of the season will be given individually to each player rather than split between the entire team, encouraging teams to have subs.
The prizes at the end of the first season will be split as followed:
- 1st Place: Each player will receive $50 in Blizzard eBalance
- 2nd Place: Each player will receive $40 in Blizzard eBalance
- 3rd-4th Place: Each player will receive $30 in Blizzard eBalance
- 5th-8th Place: Each player will receive $20 in Blizzard eBalance
- All other participants who complete a full season: Each player will receive $10 in Blizzard eBalance