Players competing in the local Overwatch Contenders tournament are staging a type of walkout against Blizzard. Participants in the European Overwatch Contenders Summer Series competition declined to compete after a match was abruptly halted by a rule of play.
Blizzard held an Overwatch Contenders event to pass the time during the Overwatch League’s off-week as teams recovered from the beautiful chaos of the Midseason Madness tournament the previous week. The Overwatch Contenders Summer Series is a double-elimination competition with a winner’s bracket and a loser’s bracket, just as Midseason Madness. According to a number of the players who participated and the tournament’s rules website, the European winner’s bracket final between 01 Esports and Munich Esports today was listed as a best of seven. The winner would advance to the grand final, and the loser would face the winner of the loser’s bracket final.
Other than the grand finals, best-of-seven matchups are uncommon in the Overwatch League proper. Knowing this, a Munich Esports player contacted a Blizzard tournament administrator to inquire if the match was, in fact, a best-of-seven affair. The player obtained confirmation and assurance that the winner’s finals match was, in fact, a best-of-seven affair.
The two teams then started playing.
Munich Esports led 3-0 when 01 Esports stepped up their game, winning the following two maps to make the score 3-2. All hell breaks loose right here.
The match was abruptly interrupted by Blizzard tournament administrators, who claimed that the game was supposed to be a best of five, not a best of seven. Munich Esports received the victory since they were the first team to complete three maps. As players from Munich Esports and 01 Esports began posting screenshots of chats with tournament administrators indicating that they had been told the match would be a best of seven, this sparked a significant and vehement criticism against Blizzard on social media.
Aron “ANJ” de Jong, a primary support player for 01 Esports, discussed what transpired with The Verge.
We have to face Ex Oblivione in the losers bracket because of our defeat, he explained. “We came to an understanding with them that Blizzard cannot continue to treat people in this manner and that this is unacceptable. Ex Oblivione and I both agreed that we shouldn’t participate in the game, but we still chose to play it even though we wouldn’t be competing.
You can notice that neither team is playing seriously in the broadcast below; players just stand about and refuse to play the goal. The casters come to understand that no one is taking this seriously, which makes for a beautiful collective action that is also rather humorous.
Munich Esports and 01 Esports will be permitted to complete the match as a best-of-seven, and Ex Oblivione and 01 Esports will not be penalized for their demonstration. Although some players want this result, others believe that the misunderstanding and the ensuing controversy point to a bigger issue with Blizzard’s handling of semi-pro Overwatch esports.
According to @kevhx_, general manager of Ex Oblivione, “[Blizzard] needs to own their lack of communication between Blizzard employees and the teams,” to The Verge through Discord. “We frequently receive semi-critical information very late or without it at all,”
Overwatch Contenders may be compared to minor league baseball. It features a unique structure, is managed by outside tournament organizers, and serves as a recruiting ground for upcoming Overwatch League players. Unfortunately, players, coaches, and fans of Contenders believe that the game is not receiving the right backing from Blizzard, which is unfortunate considering that clubs in the League would struggle to fill their rosters without a strong amateur environment.
01 Esports tank @kraandopOW informs The Verge in a direct message that “it’s crucial to highlight that only this choice announced by Blizzard isn’t the sole cause for the out roar.” This seemed like the last drop in Blizzard’s polite but subpar communication with the Contenders contestants.