Contenders Trials is in full swing, and the best teams from Open Division are currently throwing down against relegated Season One Contenders teams for the right to represent their regions in Contenders Season Two.

For some teams, Season Two will be a first effort at Contenders-level play. For others, it’ll mean the opportunity to keep on winning. And for a select few, Season Two will spell a chance at redemption.

The action begins again in July, just after Contenders Trials concludes. Start dates are as follows:

China: July 1

Australia: July 2

Europe: July 2

North America: July 3

Korea: July 4

South America: July 5

Pacific: July 6

Season Two of Contenders will take place on patch 1.24 (the current patch on the Overwatch live servers), and will feature the following map pool:

Control

  • Lijiang Tower
  • Oasis
  • Ilios (Tiebreaker)

Hybrid

  • Eichenwalde
  • King’s Row

Assault

  • Temple of Anubis
  • Volskaya Industries

Escort

  • Route 66
  • Watchpoint: Gibraltar
  • Rialto

Of note, Contenders Season Two will be the Overwatch Esports debut for Overwatch’s newest escort map, Rialto!

In the meantime, whet your appetite for Contenders Season Two by reliving some of the best moments from Season One, from the perspective of our regional broadcast talent.

Australia

My favourite moment was watching the first two maps of Blank Blue and Legacy when they played off for second place in Group A in the last week of the regular season. Both maps ended with extremely close results and gave us what was probably the most exciting couple of maps in Season One of Contenders Australia.

For me, the best part about the first season of Contenders Australia was how much all the teams grew and improved together. Over the last few months, it feels like we have moved from a region of a one or two of top teams to a region with several quality organisations are all vying for the top spot.

China

I think what Contenders Season One brought us was much more than stellar performance from the players collectively. It was the adrenaline-pumping—but also heartwarming—feeling we had been waiting to see from our local stars. The path to victory was never easy, so we witnessed every team stumbled on their ways to greatness, and we shared their joy and tears along the way.

My favorite moment from season one must be game seven of the final on Junkertown. It was obvious that fatigue has kicked in for LGD, both physically and mentally. I’m a former pro player myself, and if I were on stage I would have probably been saying “Don’t give up!,” but would have already known the outcome in my heart. But LGD’s players fought until the end, demonstrating skills at mind’s and body’s limit. To think this is game seven, the last map of the season, and to witness all 12 players playing out of their minds—I shed a tear before the game even ended.

Europe

The highlight for me in season one was watching a host of "unknown" teams come to the forefront. We saw Bazooka Puppies cause a major upset early in the season, beating Mosaic Esports, and this narrative lived on into the LAN Playoffs with CIS Hope securing a spot. While other organisations might brag salaries or sponsorship, this was a group of friends hellbent on just enjoying the game of Overwatch and showcasing their talent. It highlighted why Overwatch Contenders is such an incredible competition to take part in and watch, as it truly allows all players the chance to step up and be noticed based on their skill and gameplay over all else.

There were so many high moments throughout the season—but, for me, the best was back in week one. Everyone came into the season thinking British Hurricane, Team Gigantti, and Mosaic Esports would be the top three teams once the dust had settled on the group stages. Hurricane and Gigantti took their series comfortably, confirming our suspicions. Mosaic's first match the next day was against Bazooka Puppiez, a relatively unknown team. What we were blessed with was a 3-2 win by Bazooka Puppiez, which ended 2-1 on Oasis. It was insanely close and was the most invested I've ever been in a series of Overwatch!

My personal highlight of this Contenders Season occurred in a place you’d not expect to find a high point, but rather a low. In the final map, Dorado, of Hurricane vs. Gigantti’s group-stage matchup, with Gigantti beaten and bloodied at an 0-3 deficit in maps against a titanic performance from the Hurricane, we saw something all my hours in Overwatch had never revealed.

The idea of a Bastion rollout on Dorado, to plant the omnic upon the cart and carve a path forward is well known—though the idea instead to not place Bastion upon the cart but to rocket him skywards on a Mei Wall out of the attacking spawn balcony was unheard of. LHCloudy didn’t get the memo, either, and was torn down by the surprise minigun fire on his hidden starting locale.

Kragie and British Hurricane showed us that even in a one-sided series, European Contenders always brings something worth watching to the table. Gigantti’s defeat in this instance also readied them for one of the closest finals ever to grace Overwatch.

My main highlight from season one was the finals between Hurricane and Gigantti. There was no doubt in my mind that the game would go the distance, a five-game series between Hurricane, an org that has the backing of the London Spitfire, facing off against a team that won it last time around with the one remaining player from that lineup, Davin. A match of epic proportions where each member showed up in force.

My personal highlight of Contenders Europe Season One was the week everything kind of got turned on its head, week one. On paper, we could start to see who the dominant teams were and the ones leading the respective groups. In week three’s matches, Orgless and Hungry took down British Hurricane, Angry Titans gave Gigantti a ruddy good hiding, and, onto group B, Young and Beautiful took Eagle Gaming to Oasis. Full of surprises, and really gave everyone something to think about.

Korea

My favorite moment from Contenders Korea Season 1 had to be the upset of O2 Ardeont defeating Element Mystic. The emotions of O2 Ardeont as they pulled it off, jumping out of their chairs with happiness while Daco, Jecse, and the rest of Element Mystic is in tears, defeated. That clash of emotions is what is most exciting about esports to me. Even though myself and most analysts universally agreed that Element Mystic was the best team in Korea, they fell short on the match day. It was perhaps the biggest choke in Korean Overwatch history.

Season One of Contenders Korea has been a breeding ground for highlight-worthy plays since day one, so picking a favorite moment is difficult. That said, the winner must be Runaway. Yes, the entire team with their crazy Overtime push on Blizzard World, barely falling short of completing the map again. This was made crazier by the Full Hold on A that Runaway executed a few minutes later. The crowd erupted with deafening cheers and applause, which was well deserved.

North America

LAN environments can bring out the best in everyone, and that's why my highlight of Season One is the NA/EU finals weekend. We got to see future superstars like Dalton test their mettle against equally young but still veteran players like WhoRU. Outside of the games, the camaraderie and respect shared by all our competitors was a sight to behold—and something I consider myself very lucky to have been able to experience.

What excites me most in Overwatch is seeing an established narrative be turned on its head. Grizzlies vs. XL2 was a perfect example of this, where the expectations of the casters and viewers alike were smashed to smithereens. XL2 was to be anointed the new Kings of Contenders with the addition of hero of World Cup 2017, Fl0w3r. Instead XL2 ran head first into a brick wall in the newly rejuvenated play of Zaprey. Zaprey returned to his roots and focused on his Tracer play, bringing forward a top-class performance that shell-shocked XL2 and carried Grizzlies to a 2-1 victory. The matchup was a perfect example of the intrigue that makes every match in Contenders worth watching.

Pacific

I was absolutely fascinated by Bello’s plays on Doomfist when his team, OneShine Esports, took on Xavier Esports in the regular season. He made his Doomfist an awesome debut at Hanamura with the unbeatable fist, it seemed that no one could escape from Bello’s attack no matter how strong the rival.

My favorite moment from Season One was watching the dive comp from Detonator KR. I still remember the match that Detonator KR played against Machi Esports at Hollywood Objective A on defense side, they perfectly blocked the arch to cease attacks from enemies proves their outstanding mobility on dive comp.

The match of MEGA and Blank Esports, which are the top two teams in the group, was epic and impressive in the regular season. In this match, Blank Esports showed the advantage of Tracer–Sombra comp, and chose the multi-tank comp in the Control map, but MEGA picked Sombra and Junkrat to fight back immediately. The diversity of composition in this match was one of the most remarkable part in this tournament.

The most unforgettable highlight for me is the Doomfist that Bello played in Hanamura. Bello helped OneShine Esports capture the Objective A and B in the last minute. Not only the great personal performance, but also the cooperation with the whole team. It’s an astonishing attack both in entertaining and strategy execution.

The best part I liked in Season One is the finals between Detonator KR and Blank Esports. Detonator KR was considered being crowned in the first season as an entire-Korean team, but Blank Esports showed us that they are worthy players to be on this grand stage and fight for the highest honor. The game was way more intense than anyone could have anticipated, the score was tied until the fifth map, which Detonator KR took. Although Detonator KR is the champion, I was impressed by Blank Esports on how much they grew and improved this time. We can tell from their rich lineup and mature teamwork that they will come back with more epic performances.

South America

The first season of Overwatch Contenders South America was unique. The establishment of an official championship in our region grabbed the attention of everyone, from players to huge organizations, ready to answer the call to step up their games in every possible way. Every match had its surprises, passion was present all the time, and besides having Brasil Gaming House and Isurus Gaming showing top-tier skill, game sense and teamwork—especially during the Grand Finals—other teams such as paiN Gaming, Nocturns Gaming, Just W, and Caverna Esports were able to prove the potential within our region and that Season One was just the beginning of the road to victory.

The opportunity offered by Overwatch Contenders South America is epic. Experienced teams like Brasil Gaming House and Isurus Gaming had the opportunity to prove why they are the leaders in this side of the world, with an incredible regular season, in which Isurus managed to impose itself, and an even greater playoffs, where BGH had their revenge. On top of that, rising stars like Just W, paiN gaming, and Nocturns Gaming showed steady growth throughout the season with intense games, where they demonstrated that the teams from our region have the potential to achieve amazing results.

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