Overwatch World Cup

Overwatch World Cup
Sport Esports
Inaugural season 2016
No. of teams
  • 16 (2016)
  • 32 (2017)
  • 24 (2018-)
Continent International
Most recent
 South Korea (2nd title)
Most titles  South Korea (2 titles)
TV partner(s)

The Overwatch World Cup (OWC) is an Overwatch eSports tournament organized by Blizzard Entertainment, the video game's developer. The tournament is competed by international teams.

The 2017 tournament involved an initial group stage in which 32 nations qualify; they are determined by the average skill rating of a nation's top 100 players qualify. Following this, the top two teams from each group advance to a single-elimination playoff bracket. The final eight teams continue the rest of the playoff bracket at Blizzard's BlizzCon event.


Development and previous international competitions

According to game designer Jeff Kaplan, Overwatch was not developed with any dedication towards eSports. Dan Szymborski of ESPN stated that Overwatch was poised as the next big eSport for having a sufficiently different look and playstyle from established eSports titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty, enough variety in maps and characters, and strong support from Blizzard to maintain the game for a long time.[2] Bryant Francis writing for Gamasutra noted the speed and short match times of Overwatch make the game highly favorable for viewership, further supporting the title as an eSports title.[3] Overwatch's progression into eSports was described by Rolling Stone as a "strategy [that] involved carefully rolling out the game in steps – first a closed beta, then open beta, then full release, then a competitive mode and finally a league."[4]

In June 2016, the eSports organizer ESL announced that they would host the first international Overwatch competition in August 2016, called Overwatch Atlantic Showdown.[5] The competition used four open qualifiers beginning in June, followed by regional qualifiers and then a final online qualifier. Eight teams then competed for a six-figure prize in the finals to be held at Gamescom 2016 from August 20–21.[6] Turner Broadcasting's ELeague announced the first Overwatch Open tournament, starting in July 2016, with a total prize pool of $300,000, with plans to broadcast the finals on Turner's cable channel TBS in September 2016.[7]

Blizzard's Overwatch World Cup

In August 2016, Blizzard announced their own Overwatch international tournament, allowing users to vote for teams to represent their nation or region.[8][9] Over 3 million votes to decide national teams were cast.[10] The inaugural Overwatch World Cup was watched by 100,000 people at BlizzCon 2016.[11] The South Korean team won the tournament, defeating the Russian team 4–0 in the final round.[12]

In March 2017, Blizzard announced Overwatch World Cup 2017.[10] The selection of national teams for the 2017 World Cup was different from 2016 in that participating nations were required to vote for an Overwatch World Cup National Committee.[10] The National Committees were based upon nominations chosen by Blizzard; according to Blizzard, "analysts, coaches, statisticians, and other authorities" recommended rosters for all stages of the competition.[10][13] Blizzard announced the 2017 World Cup participants in April.[14] The 2017 World Cup experienced an issue with several players on the Chinese team being denied visas to enter the United States for the final round, causing four players on the team to be replaced by substitutes.[15][16]


The 2017 format of the event involved finding the average skill rating of the top 100 players of a nation; the top 32 nations determined by this metric qualified to participate in the tournament's group stage.[13] The 32 qualifying teams advance to a group stage, where 4 nations are placed into 8 different groups. The top 2 teams from each group advance to a single-elimination playoff bracket. After the first stage of the playoff bracket, the final 8 teams compete at BlizzCon.[17]


The OWC is broadcast through live stream channels on the Twitch service.[18] Official live stream broadcast channels were provided in English, Chinese, Korean, French, Russian, German, Japanese, and Thai.[18] Other languages are broadcast through community–run channels on the official Overwatch World Cup team page.[18] Prior to the third edition of the event, Disney and Blizzard Entertainment announced a multiyear deal for coverage of Overwatch esports, including 2018's Overwatch World Cup.[19]


Year MVP Winners Score Runners-up Third Place Score Fourth Place Number of Teams
 South Korea

South Korea


South Korea



An MVP award for the Final Round of the OWC has been awarded since the inaugural tournament in 2016. Gong "Miro" Jin-hyuk of the South Korean team won the award in 2016.[20] In 2017, T-Mobile, one of the tournament's sponsors presented the MVP award.[21] 2017 MvP award was awarded to Félix "xQc" Lengyel of the Canadian team.[22][23]

See also


  1. "Overwatch League comes to ESPN, Disney and ABC". ESPN. July 11, 2018. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  2. Szymborski, Dan (April 28, 2016). "Why Overwatch is the next big esport". ESPN. Archived from the original on June 11, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  3. Francis, Bryant (May 12, 2016). "Overwatch's biggest contribution to esports' growth: speed". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on June 16, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  4. Crecente, Brian (February 2018). "'Overwatch': Birth of a Professional Esports League". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  5. Saedler, Philipp (June 10, 2016). "ESL to host first international Overwatch® competition with a six-figure prize pool at gamescom 2016". ESL Gaming. Archived from the original on June 12, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  6. Chalk, Andy (June 10, 2016). "ESL announces first six-figure Overwatch tournament". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on June 13, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  7. Paget, Mat (July 22, 2016). "Overwatch Heads to TV for a New Tournament". GameSpot. Archived from the original on July 24, 2016. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  8. "Get Ready for the Overwatch® World Cup". Play Overwatch. August 4, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  9. O'Connor, James (August 5, 2016). "The Overwatch World Cup will take place during Blizzcon". VG247. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Chalk, Andy (March 29, 2017). "The 2017 Overwatch World Cup has already begun". PC Gamer. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  11. Gilliam, Ryan (November 16, 2016). "How Blizzard is making Overwatch a successful esport, and where it needs to improve". Polygon. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  12. Lopez, Miguel (November 8, 2016). "Blizzcon 2016: What We Learned About 'Overwatch', 'Hearthstone' and More". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  13. 1 2 "The Overwatch World Cup Returns". Play Overwatch. March 29, 2017. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  14. Morrison, Sean (April 27, 2017). "Blizzard announces Overwatch World Cup participants". ESPN. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  15. Hester, Blake (October 26, 2017). "Chinese 'Overwatch' Player Asks Blizzard for Help With American Visas in Open Letter". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  16. Carpenter, Nicole (October 26, 2017). "Most of China's Overwatch World Cup team won't be at the tournament due to visa issues". Dot eSports. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  17. 2017 Overwatch World Cup | Here's How We Play. PlayOverwatch. YouTube. July 10, 2017. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  18. 1 2 3 "Overwatch World Cup Group Stage Talent Team and Where to Watch". July 6, 2017. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  19. "Overwatch League comes to ESPN, Disney and ABC". ESPN. July 11, 2018. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  20. Erzberger, Tyler (November 9, 2016). "Miro talks Overwatch World Cup, South Korea and the esport's future". ESPN. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  21. @TMobile (November 4, 2017). "Say hello to this year's Overwatch World Cup #TMobileMVP... @xQcOW! 👑" (Tweet). Retrieved March 2, 2018 via Twitter.
  22. Alonzo, Damian (November 9, 2017). "Win or lose, the Overwatch World Cup was full of great storylines". PC Gamer. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  23. "XQC talks Canada's run at Overwatch World Cup, OWL, winning MVP, and his social media worries". Travis Gafford (Interview). Interviewed by Olivee May. YouTube. November 7, 2017. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
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