In what seems to be their version of the NBA G-League or MLB farm system, Blizzard has announced the Path to Pro in hopes of providing players of all skill levels a shot at Overwatch’s biggest stage.
Beginning in March, Overwatch Contenders will expand to include seven regions with three seasons per year. Additionally, Overwatch APEX, Overwatch Premier Series, and the Overwatch Pacific Championship will be subsumed by Contenders, becoming Contenders Korea, Contenders China, and Contenders Pacific, respectively. Australia and South America will also be added as regions, which contributes to Blizzard’s vision of making Overwatch League a truly global league.
Per the announcement, “At a minimum, the top six teams from existing tournaments (Contenders North America and Europe, APEX, Premier, and the Pacific Championship) will be invited to join their region’s Contenders for 2018. The new Contenders regions, Australia and South America, will hold open qualifier tournaments to determine entry.”
Additionally, Overwatch Open Division will return in January in the same seven regions previously announced for Contenders, and in February the top four Open Division teams will compete in their region’s Contenders Trials: an eight-team promotion-regulation tournament. Teams who participate in the Contender’s Trials will compete for a share of a prize pool and a spot in the following season of Contenders.
Though it hasn’t been announced if or how a player’s performance may translate to a bid for a roster spot in Overwatch League, Blizzard has stated they’ll provide more details on each of these programs in December.