The 3rd and final season of the 2018 Overwatch Contenders ended with the last regional final played in Australia on the 20th of January 2019. With the ending of this season, Blizzard announced news for the 2019 season of Contenders as well as changes to the competitive system, and a whole lot of Live event madness to look forward to.
Before we dive into what awaits in 2019, let us look back at the memorable moments of the Season 3 finals in each region.
North America (Fusion University)
The North American finals served us a repeated matchup from Group A of the Contenders Regular Season. The Fusion University and ATL Academy teams matched up once again (after Fusion won in the Group Phase) for the trophy of the American Contenders Season 3.
ATL came out swinging and traded blows with Fusion University on the first four maps of the matchup. It was not until map five at Busan that Fusion finally showed why they were two times champions coming into the final completely taking over the next few maps and ending the Season 3 of Contenders with a three-peat and undefeated.
It was an amazing showcase of how much potential ATL has after recently joining the OW circuit and the Academy team showing they are a team to look out for after their first ever Contenders season.
Europe (Team Gigantti)
After both top seeds from each the groups in the European league fell out of contention in the semifinals after being defeated by respective runner ups, the European final had Team Gigantti return to glory atop the Contenders scene after 15 months from their 2017 Season 1 Championship. They faced Angry Titans in a six map showdown that continued the Angry Titans curse of “always being second” yet again.
After a decisive start by Team Gigganti on Lijiang Tower, Numbani a bit of back and forth between the teams gave hope to the fans of Angry Titans, which was ultimately crushed on the 6th final map Hollywood.
South America (LFTOWL)
The South American final faced two teams that haven’t dropped a matchup in their respective Contenders runs. LFTOWL and based tryhards both came out 5-0 from the group stage and advanced to the final from the opposing side of the bracket. Based tryhards only dropped one match before the final to previous season runner-ups Isurus. LFTOWL also had a perfect run in the playoff bracket and reached finals undefeated.
After a gruelling six-match showdown LFTOWL upsets the roster that won pretty much everything in South America till now and takes the title of the South America Contenders Season 3.
Although South America is one of the more underrated regions in the Contenders system the Portuguese shoutcasters are the most hype-ey in the league.
South Korea (RunAway)
Before the season the strength of the Korean Contenders region seemed severely weakened, yet as soon as playoffs came around we witnessed that Korea is an untapped source of great talent and players with high skill are of no shortage.
Having RunAway as a finalist pre-season was unlikely to most analysts after the team dropped its roster to the Vancouver Titans. Yet, the eye for talent of the organization proves unquestionable after picking up a roster that went almost perfect in regular season part only dropping three games and zero matches.
Opposing them, Elements Mystic faced the same problems due to the Overwatch League Season 2 roster shuffle. Jecse, Pokpo and DACO all left the roster leaving Elements Mystic rebuilding their roster once again. Both teams reached the finals and faced off in a repeated matchup of the previous season semifinal.
RunAway managed to break their opposition in five games in front of the live audience with each player making a personal showcase of talent during each game. In the end each player took a piece of the Contenders Season 3 trophy home. Literally…
Australia (Sydney Drop Bears)
Sydney Drop Bears claims a Three-peat at Contenders Australia and adds yet another trophy under their belt after a dominating season run.
The Order Army and Sydney Drop Bears met at the Contenders Australia Final 20th of January for the title and bragging rights of the region. Although The Sydney Drop Bears came out with a convincing victory, the 4-1 score does not completely reflect the performance of Order in the playoffs. Both teams went through the playoff stage undefeated and in convincing fashion. Even the final was a back and forth with games hanging by a thread and could go either way.
It was an interesting matchup to watch and I propose you watch all of it through and through for all the nail-biting moments.
Pacific (Honk Kong Attitude)
The Pacific grand final saw two Taiwanese teams match up for the prize and pride of being the best team in the Contenders Pacific region. Hong Kong Attitude and Nova Esports met January 18, 2019 in a best of seven showdown for the title.
HKA came out swinging on Lijiang Tower and the consecutive games on Numban and Horizon Lunar Colony. After a dominating 3–0 run by HKA, Nova eSports hinted a possible reverse sweep in Game 4 after a commanding snowball to start the match at Dorado and taking the score to 3-1. Game 5 was the decider for HKA after completely dismantling the dreams of a reverse sweep by Nova and taking Ilios and the title of Pacific Contenders.
China (T1w Esports Club)
It was a miracle run for the former “Miracle Team One” as they went through groups without dropping a single map, then dominating their playoffs run until losing just a single game to Flag Gaming. Flag Gaming themselves had a strong run in groups and playoffs and if not for T1w to stop them in their tracks, their dominance would not be looked over so much.
T1w Esports Club take the series 4-1 over Flag Gaming and are the Contenders China 2018 Season 3 Champions! The guys at broadcast.gg made a nice highlight reel of the memorable moments.
Several changes have been announced by Blizzard for the 2019 Contenders season. Each region will cut the number of teams from 12 to 8. Additionally, North America will now represent two regions in North America East and North America West. Academy teams not participating in the Overwatch Contenders betting leagues will be offered spots, and finally a soft lock will be put in place for each region in order to facilitate the development of local talent instead of the current talent bloat from different regions.
On top of this Blizzard announces three completely new live events strategically placed in the mid and season end periods of the Overwatch League with an aim at increased exposure of talent to League scouts.
The end of May 2019 will feature two regional showdowns (Pacific and Atlantic) featuring teams from the eight competitive regions. The crown jewel will be “The Gauntlet” an event in October that will feature the best performing teams from each regional showdown in a battle for global contender domination.