After a three-year hiatus, the Overwatch World Cup will finally make a comeback in Overwatch 2, with 36 countries and regions competing for the cup.
The major international competition, which was initially slated to take place annually, has not taken place since 2019 – when the United States defeated China 3-0 to win its first cup. The first Overwatch World Cup was held in 2016, the same year that saw the launch of Overwatch – that year’s Game of the Year. Unlike the previous three World Cups, in which teams were formed through trials or decisions made by fan-voted coaches or committees, the 2016 national teams were formed directly through a public fan vote. The tournament was later divided into three phases in 2019, with any country eligible to compete in the preliminary stage.
Blizzard has committed to reinstating the Overwatch World Cup next year, now that Overwatch 2 is out and COVID-19 no longer prohibits the publisher from staging the massive FPS competition. A roadmap has been posted on the official website, and the plans for the 2023 World Cup look significantly more sophisticated than previous ones.
While the tournament itself remains in three phases (qualifiers, group stage, and finals), Blizzard has further divided their plans into three administrative stages. Stage 1 begins in January, with Blizzard revealing the 36 nations and regions that will play in the tournament and accepting committee submissions for organizing regional teams. Stage 2 will take place from February to June and involve forming regional committees, tryouts, team selection, a World Cup Trials Overwatch 2 open tournament, and the qualifiers themselves.
The 36 teams will be narrowed down to 16 for Stage 3 of the event in the “Overwatch World Cup qualifications,” which will be held in June via regional online competition. These 16 teams will then face off against one another in the Group Stages and Finals in a LAN environment in the fall of 2023 to determine the first World Cup champion since 2019.
In addition to watching some of the best Overwatch 2 players in action, Blizzard has promised fans a range of in-game challenges and rewards to celebrate the Overwatch World Cup’s return. More exact data and information regarding the 2023 Overwatch World Cup, including details about each stage and viewer information, are anticipated to be released in the following weeks and months.
Overwatch 2 is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.