The Overwatch World Cup is back after a three-year hiatus, and it promises to be an exciting event for fans of the popular team-based shooter game. The fifth edition of the tournament will feature 36 teams from different countries and regions, competing for glory and a share of the crowdfunded prize pool. The tournament will also be the first official competition to showcase Overwatch 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the original game.
The Overwatch World Cup 2023 will consist of three phases: the World Cup Trials, the Online Qualifiers, and the LAN Finals. The World Cup Trials were held in February, where teams from each participating country and region competed for a spot in the Online Qualifiers. The Online Qualifiers will take place in June, where teams will be divided into six groups based on their geographic location. The top teams from each group will advance to the LAN Finals, which will be held in the fall of 2023.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the Online Qualifiers, which will determine the 16 teams that will make it to the LAN Finals. We will also highlight some of the teams and players to watch out for, as well as some of the potential matchups and storylines that could emerge.
Online Qualifiers Format and Schedule
The Online Qualifiers will feature 36 teams from three regional conferences: Americas (AMER), Europe and Middle East (EMEC), and Asia-Pacific (APAC). Each conference will have two groups of six teams each, based on their Overwatch 2 player population data. The groups are as follows:
AMER A: Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States
AMER B: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
EMEC A: Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Spain
EMEC B: Germany, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Turkey
APAC A: Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, South Korea
APAC B: Australia, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand
The Online Qualifiers will run from June 18 to July 2. Each group will play a round-robin format, where each team will face every other team in their group once. The matches will be best-of-five maps. The top three teams from each group will advance to the LAN Finals.
The matches will be streamed live on Twitch and YouTube, with drops enabled for viewers who watch for a certain amount of time. Fans can also join watch parties hosted by streamers and content creators who will co-stream the matches using the hashtag #OWWCstreamteam.
Teams and Players to Watch
With 36 teams competing in the Online Qualifiers, there are plenty of talented players and exciting teams to watch out for. Here are some of the highlights:
United States: The reigning champions of the Overwatch World Cup 2019 are back to defend their title. Led by general manager Aaron “Aero” Atkins and head coach Christopher “Jayne” Mykles, the team features some of the best players from the Overwatch League (OWL), such as Matthew “Super” DeLisi (San Francisco Shock), Grant “Moth” Espe (Los Angeles Gladiators), Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa (Houston Outlaws), and Indy “SPACE” Halpern (Los Angeles Gladiators). The team also has some rising stars from Overwatch Contenders (OWC), such as Dalton “Dalton” Bennyhoff (Vancouver Titans) and William “Crimzo” Hernandez (Dallas Fuel). The team is expected to dominate their group and make a deep run in the LAN Finals.
South Korea: The three-time winners of the Overwatch World Cup 2016-2018 are looking to reclaim their throne after losing to the United States in 2019. Led by general manager Kim “alwaysoov” Seung-hyun and head coach Park “Crusty” Dae-hee, both from San Francisco Shock who won back-to-back OWL championships in 2019 and 2020, the team features some of the most decorated players in Overwatch history, such as Park “Profit” Joon-yeong (Seoul Dynasty), Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun (Shanghai Dragons), Choi “ChoiHyoBin” Hyo-bin (San Francisco Shock), and Lee “Twilight” Joo-seok (San Francisco Shock). The team also has some fresh faces from OWC, such as Kim “Assassin” Sung-won (Washington Justice) and Lee “LeeJaeGon” Jae-gon (Shanghai Dragons). The team is expected to breeze through their group and challenge for the gold medal in the LAN Finals.
France: The runners-up of the Overwatch World Cup 2018 are back to prove themselves after a disappointing performance in 2019. Led by general manager Philippe “Lanf3ust” Rivain and head coach Julien “Daemon” Ducros, both from Paris Eternal who had a breakthrough season in OWL 2020, the team features some of the best players from France, such as Terence “SoOn” Tarlier (Paris Eternal), Benjamin “BenBest” Dieulafait (Paris Eternal), Brice “FDGod” Monsçavoir (San Francisco Shock), and Gael “Poko” Gouzerch (Philadelphia Fusion). The team also has some promising players from OWC, such as Lucas “Leaf” Loison (British Hurricane) and Hugo “SharP” Sahlberg (Atlanta Reign). The team is expected to compete with Great Britain and Spain for the top spot in their group and make a strong showing in the LAN Finals.
China: The only team that received a direct invitation to the LAN Finals, bypassing the World Cup Trials and the Online Qualifiers. The reason for this is that China has always performed very well in the Overwatch World Cup, finishing second in 2018 and 2019, and third in 2017. The team also has a huge player base and fan base in Overwatch 2. The team has not announced their roster or staff yet, but it is likely that they will feature some of the best players from OWL, such as Huang “Leave” Xin (Chengdu Hunters), Li “Yveltal” Xianyao (Chengdu Hunters), Xu “guxue” Qiulin (Hangzhou Spark), and Cai “Krystal” Shilong (Guangzhou Charge). The team is expected to be a formidable opponent for any team in the LAN Finals.
Potential Matchups and Storylines
The Online Qualifiers will also provide some interesting matchups and storylines for fans to follow. Here are some of the possible scenarios:
United States vs South Korea: The rematch of the Overwatch World Cup 2019 finals, where the United States pulled off a stunning upset over South Korea, ending their three-year reign as champions. Both teams are stacked with talent and experience, and both teams have something to prove. Will the United States repeat their historic victory, or will South Korea get their revenge?
France vs Great Britain: The rivalry between these two European nations goes back centuries, and it extends to Overwatch as well. In the Overwatch World Cup 2018, France defeated Great Britain in the semifinals, denying them a chance to play for the gold medal. In 2019, Great Britain returned the favor by defeating France in the group stage, knocking them out of the tournament. Both teams have strong rosters and coaches, and both teams are eager to settle the score.
Japan vs Philippines: The underdogs of their respective groups, these two teams have never qualified for the LAN Finals before. However, they have shown some impressive results in OWC, with Japan winning Pacific Showdown 2020 and Philippines finishing second in Pacific Contenders 2020 Season 2. Both teams have some talented players and passionate fans, and both teams are hungry for a breakthrough.
Australia vs New Zealand: The neighbors and rivals from down under, these two teams have a friendly but fierce competition in Overwatch. In the Overwatch World Cup 2017, Australia defeated New Zealand in the group stage, advancing to the quarterfinals. In 2018, New Zealand got their revenge by defeating Australia in the group stage, eliminating them from the tournament. In 2019, Australia bounced back by defeating New Zealand again in the group stage, qualifying for the quarterfinals. Both teams have some veteran players and new blood, and both teams are looking to make a statement.
The LAN Finals will take place in the fall of 2023, at a location that has not been announced yet. The LAN Finals will feature 16 teams that qualified from the Online Qualifiers, plus one team from China that received a direct invitation.