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Looking Over the 2020 Contenders Changes


The official Path to Pro Twitter has released the 2020 Contenders schedule, along with clarifying the incoming rules and regulations changes mentioned earlier this fall.

Biggest Takeaways

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment
  • Four Open Division trials that will determine seeding along with a new points system
  • No more residency restrictions (except China)
  • North America is now a consolidated region – no more NA East vs NA West
  • Academy teams now have four two-way spots on their rosters instead of two
  • $2.5 million total prize pool

New Competition Format

Mark your calendars, Contenders fans. The 2020 season starts on January 6, as the first Open Division seeding trial takes place. The preliminary trial will run from January 6-26, and this will be the first of four double-elimination trials that will take place throughout the year. The official twitter also confirmed that all Contenders teams that participated in Season 2 of the 2019 season are invited back to compete. However, there is now a stronger chance for Open Division teams to break through the already paper-thin barrier separating the Tier 2/3 scenes.

There will be two seasons of Contenders that will take place this year. The first season of Contenders will run from January to July; the second season will run from July to December. Each season will have two Open Division trials and two Contenders tournaments. This means that Contenders will be year-round once again.

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Along with the new scheduling format, there is now a points system that will determine regional playoff qualification. Teams accumulate points by placing in Contenders tournaments. By the end of the season, the teams with the most points will qualify to compete in a double-elimination playoff bracket. The top finishers in each region will qualify for the Atlantic and Pacific Showdowns. From there, the winners of the Showdowns will once again face off at the Gauntlet tournament at the end of the year.

Region and Academy Team Changes

Contenders, XL2 Academy
Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Except for China, all regions are now free from residency requirements. This means that teams can play any number of players from different regions on their roster so long as they meet other roster requirements. The entirety of North America is also going to be consolidated into one region as opposed to two.

Along with these changes, Academy Teams will now have four two-way spots on their roster instead of two. Recently, Academy Teams have been dropping like flies. XL2 Academy announced their hiatus in mid-November with GLA Legion following not too long after. While Fusion University is not dead per se, they are undergoing a rebrand with T1. They will continue to compete in Contenders Korea. While Eternal Academy is making a surprising comeback after being relegated last year, things have looked grim as far as Academy teams are concerned. With these changes, fans are hopeful that teams will look back into investing in the Contenders scene in the future.

Prize Pool

Speaking of investments, the change of the total prize pool for Contenders has many raising their eyebrows. The seemingly hefty $2.5 million total prize pool is actually down from the previous $3 million total prize pool according to the official website.

This decrease in the prize pool is not surprising, but still concerning. Activision-Blizzard has become notorious for its various financial cuts over the years. Contenders seems to continue to be hit the hardest by these financial decisions. Money is a huge frustration within the community as there are multiple reports of teams not being paid on time, or at all. Players often take to Twitter to voice their frustrations about Blizzard’s financial handlings, and the change in this year’s total prize pool has many raising their voices once more.

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Follow me on Twitter: @Sybil_OW for all things Contenders! You can also message me on Discord @ Sybil#3517! I’m always happy to discuss anything I’ve written! 

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