In Overwatch, as in soccer, there’s annual league play and international World Cups. This weekend belongs to the second. Before OWL’s second season gets underway, teams from around the world will represent their nations at BlizzCon in the Overwatch World Cup.
It’s one of the game’s most entertaining events for all the same reasons people love the soccer World Cup: it’s messy, unpredictable, and often full of “holy shit” moments that professionalised teams are trained to stomp out at all costs.
Unlike OWL teams, World Cup Overwatch teams are hodgepodges of pros, popular streamers, and fan favourites, thanks to the role voting plays in finalising the lineups. Also, each player has to be from their team’s country, so while some nations are powerhouses overall, like South Korea, the constraints make for a more even playing field overall.
The USA is first seed going into the tournament’s single elimination bracket at BlizzCon. While they benefit from not having to face South Korea in the first round (who knocked them out in 2017), it’s hardly a get out of jail free card the way it might be in other tournaments. Canada, Australia, and the rest could all mount cinderella runs through the quarterfinals and semifinals.
Finland in particular is looking like something of a potential wild card this year, having tested South Korea by forcing a five-game series in their encounter during qualifying and being stocked with veteran players unlikely to be easily riled.
The quarterfinals started today with the United Kingdom vs. the United States and will run until approximately midnight. Tomorrow, the semifinals get underway at 0330 AEST, followed by the grand finals at 0945 AEST. All of those games will be streaming on Blizzard’s website as well as Twitch.
BlizzCon is much bigger than just the Overwatch World Cup though. It’s also home to the championships for Blizzard’s other games, including Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft II, and my personal favourite, World of Warcraft. Yes, WoW, the MMO that’s been going for so many years now it’s all but incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t followed it closely since the beginning, also has a competitive mode where opposing teams of four manage auto-attacks and ability cooldowns until one of them is dead.
It’s wild, and actually a lot of fun to watch. You can find the schedule and streaming channels for those and other matches at the BlizzCon esports page.
This weekend is also the conclusion of Worlds, League of Legends’ big annual tournament. Europe’s Fnatic has found itself in the grand finals against China’s Invictus Gaming after an unlikely run through stiff competition in a competitive bracket. For years, the tournament has tended to be dominated in the later stages by Korean teams.
It was Fnatic, however, who won the championship back in its inaugural year in 2011, so it’s fitting they might be the ones to bring the trophy back home to the continent. It was never going to be an easy fight though, and with Invictus Gaming, Fnatic will have its work cut out.
Since Worlds takes place in South Korea this year, the timing is a bit harsh, with the grand finals kicking off at 1800 AEST on Saturday. The best-of-five series will be streaming here.
And it wouldn’t be an esports weekend without some fighting games. Thankfully Game Tyrant 2018 is going on in Salt Lake City. While Smash Bros. Melee will be the headliner, the event will also have competitions for Smash Bros. Wii U, Smash Bros. 64, Tekken 7, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Rivals of Aether.
Play is ongoing throughout today and Saturday, with top eight for Rivals starting 0200 AEST Monday morning, followed by Smash Bros. Wii U and Melee immediately afterwards. You can find a full schedule of the event here, with the major matches streaming live here.