Blizzard is facing another pullback of sorts; This time, they are players in the regional Overwatch Contenders Tournament. After a competitive referee prematurely ended a match, players in the European Overwatch Contenders Summer Series refused to play.
Off the week in the Overwatch League where teams are resting from tIt’s a pretty mess at Midseason Madness Last week, Blizzard ran a full-time Overwatch Contenders tournament. Just like Midseason Madness, the Overwatch Contenders Summer Series is a double elimination tournament with a winning bracket and a losing bracket. Today’s European winner’s final match – the game that will determine which team will go to the Grand Final and which team will fall in the losing bracket final – was between 01 Esports and Munich Esports and was, according to several participating players and tournament rules website, listed as the top seven.
In the Overwatch League, it’s not unusual for matches other than the major finals to be the top seven. Knowing this, a player from Munich Esports contacted the Blizzard tournament official to confirm whether the match was indeed a better than seven and received confirmation and reassurance that the winner’s final match was a better than seven.
This is how the two teams played.
The Munich esports team took a 3-0 lead, but 01 Esports hit the gas and started turning it over by winning the next two maps making the score 3-2. It’s here when all hell breaks loose.
Blizzard tournament officials suddenly called the match out, stating that the goal of the game was to be a top five, not a better seven. Since Munich Esports were the first team to have three maps, they were awarded the win. This caused a furious backlash against Blizzard on social media as players from Munich Esports and 01 Esports began sharing screenshots of conversations with tournament officials confirming that they had been told the match would be better than seven.
Since 01 Esports was immediately scheduled to play in the losing category against another team, they coordinated with their new opponents, Ex Oblivione, primarily to attack.
Talk to Aron “ANJ” de Jong, the main support player at 01 Esports the edge about what happened.
“Because of our loss, we had to play Ex Oblivione in the losers category,” he said. “We agreed with them that this was not acceptable, and that Blizzard could not treat players in this way. We agreed with Ex Oblivione not to play the match, but we wanted to make a statement so we decided to play the match but not actually compete.”
In the broadcast below, you can see that neither team is playing seriously; Players stand around and refuse to play the goal. It’s great teamwork and funny too, especially since the actors are starting to realize that no one is taking this seriously.
After this demonstration, the broadcast stopped and then ended. Shortly thereafter, a tweet from a former Oblivione Helv player posted a transcript of an in-game conversation in which the tournament’s moderator threatened to disqualify both teams if they refused to play.
Players and fans start using the hashtag #ContendersStrike To draw attention to the issue, and it has gained enough traction to become a trending topic on Twitter:
Overwatch Contenders released a statement on Twitter explaining what happened and the next steps.
Ex Oblivione and 01 Esports will not be disqualified due to their demo, and Munich Esports and 01 Esports will be able to continue the match as the top seven. Although this is the desired outcome for players, others feel that the misunderstandings and subsequent fallout are indicative of a larger problem with Blizzard and its semi-professional treatment. Note and watch eSports.
“[Blizzard] Needs to acknowledge the lack of communication between Blizzard staff and teams,” @kevhx_General Manager of Ex Oblivione, says the edge on the dispute. “It often happens that we lack semi-critical information or receive it too late.”
Think of Overwatch Contenders as a minor league baseball game. It has its own structure, run by third-party tournament organizers, and is the well through which future Overwatch League players are selected. Unfortunately, players, coaches and fans of runners feel they haven’t had the proper support from Blizzard, especially considering that without a thriving amateur system, teams in the league would have a hard time finding talent to fill their ranks.
“It is important to note that this decision only made by Blizzard is not the only reason to growl,” 01 Esports tank Tweet embed Tells the edge in DM. “Blizzard did a poor polite job of communicating with [Contenders] of the participants and I felt that this was the last drop.”
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