Announced in February this year, the Overwatch Premier Series has hosted high level competition in China with ¥4,000,000 CNY (~$600,000 USD) in prize money spread across four separate events. Despite the relative success of the tournament, doubts were raised about the future of the Premier Series due to NetEase picking up the Shanghai Overwatch League spot. As Banana Culture are the current producers of the Premier Series, speculation was raised that the Chinese scene would undergo drastic change next year.
Blizzard China's Senior Director of Esports, Lawrence Chi, has put these rumours to rest, confirming the return of the Premier Series next year in a community Q&A. Chi also detailed format changes for the Premier Series to address some of the problems experienced this year.
In the tournament's current format teams were awarded tournament points for high placements in the Spring and Summer series. These points were then used to determine the eight invited teams for the Premier Series Grand Finals event. This has proven problematic due to the constantly changing nature of the Chinese Overwatch scene. With teams disbanding or entering lengthy slumps, tournament points awarded earlier in the year have failed to properly reward newer competitors. This flaw in the system was most evident in the case of Oh My God's invite to the Premier Series Grand Final, despite their 11th place finish in the Summer Series, whilst LinGan e-Sports missed out on an invite despite being in better form in recent times.
Blizzard's solution to this problem is to change the Premier Series to a number of shorter cups instead of the current system of lengthy Spring and Summer series leading to the Grand Final series and the APAC Premier. Chi stated that this system would be able to better address the constantly changing competitive scene when allocating tournament points, as well as the benefit of being able to host events in multiple Chinese cities.
Chi also mentioned that the cup model would open up time for third party tournaments to be held, with the possibility of these tournaments being allocated Premier Series tournament points if they met Blizzard's standards. The small off-seasons between the Premier Series events has limited the feasibility of lengthy third party tournaments to be held in China in 2017.
The Overwatch Premier Series will continue to run in Asia alongside the Pacific Championship and APEX. More details about the future of the Premier Series are to be released shortly after the conclusion of the APAC Premier.