The 2019 Overwatch League season concludes on September 29 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, and while the league goes on break after that, there’s much to be done behind the scenes for all 20 teams to ensure that they’re ready for 2020. As such, the league has set the following guidelines in place for roster construction, which includes significant changes to two-way player contracts.
Overwatch League Key Dates
Sept. 30, 2019: Signing window opens for teams to exercise team options on existing player contracts, negotiate extensions with currently signed players, or sign players from their affiliated academy team competing in Contenders.
Oct. 7, 2019: Teams that have completed exercising (or declining) all existing contract options may submit free-agent player contracts to the League Office for approval. Teams may also submit player trades for approval.
Nov. 11, 2019: 2019 season agreements officially end. Any players not under contract into the 2020 season become free agents. In order to facilitate these players signing with new teams before the initial roster deadline, those players set to become free agents in November are permitted to discuss contracts with other teams before their 2019 contracts formally expire.
Nov. 15, 2019: Deadline for all teams to have a minimum of eight players under contract. Teams may sign or trade players until June 15, 2020, at 5 p.m. PT.
Players who were born on or before June 15, 2002, are eligible to sign Overwatch League contracts for the 2020 season.
Contenders/Academy Roster Rules
The following guidelines are unchanged from the 2019 season:
- Contenders rosters will be capped at eight players.
- Overwatch League teams may reach out to all Contenders players to arrange tryouts and negotiate contracts.
- Signings of a Contenders player are subject to payment of a buyout fee made by the Overwatch League team to the Contenders team. Buyout fees carry no set minimum and are capped at 100 percent of the player’s average annual base salary in the Overwatch League plus any applicable signing bonus, as well as subject to any contractual limitation on such fees in the applicable Contenders contract.
- The League Office may institute select blackout windows during each season to minimize disruption to the competition leading up to and during Contenders playoffs.
In 2020, Contenders teams affiliated with an Overwatch League organization must compete in the same geographic region as their parent team to be eligible for an “Academy Team” designation. If an Overwatch League team wishes to operate a Contenders affiliate in a different geographic region, they may do so subject to the following qualifications:
- The Overwatch League organization must have meaningful local infrastructure in place.
- The Overwatch League organization will not receive academy team benefits, including but not limited to exercising the right to match player contract offers. Teams that previously held academy team status and transfer to a new region may have grandfathered academy team rights for a limited window of time.
Right to Match
Contenders academy teams affiliated with Overwatch League organizations may negotiate “right to match” clauses granting the parent team the right to match any offer from a competing Overwatch League team who wishes to sign a Contenders academy player. The matching period is limited to seven days from the date of the initial contract submission to the League Office. Teams may only exercise a right to match for players that are part of their active Contenders roster, and the right to match provision must be negotiable with their players.
If a team chooses not to match, they may be entitled to receive a buyout fee from the competing Overwatch League team.
The 2020 season will introduce an evolution of the two-way player contract to incorporate player and team feedback from the 2019 season. Teams and players may negotiate the right to designate the player as eligible to compete on an affiliated Contenders team. Any player on the roster may agree to be eligible for Contenders play, but a maximum of four players may be designated as “two-way” players at any given time.
Two-way players are eligible to compete in Contenders, subject to the following rules:
- Regardless of where they play, two-way players count toward the Overwatch League roster limit and must earn the same salary and benefits. Two-way players also will count towards the eight-player Contenders roster limit for weeks in which their Contenders team designates them as eligible to compete.
- Designated two-way players will lose their Contenders eligibility for a 60-day period if they appear in more than two Overwatch League matches within any 30-day period. That period of ineligibility begins or resets upon the player appearing in their third Overwatch League match within a 30-day period.
- Any two-way player who competes in more than 50% of their team’s total maps played in the 2020 Overwatch League season will be ineligible to compete in Contenders during the offseason period.
- A maximum of four two-way players may compete in a single Contenders match, an increase from the two-player cap for 2019.
- After appearing in any Overwatch League match, two-way players are ineligible to compete in Contenders matches for the following week (i.e., if a player competes in the Overwatch League on a Thursday, he or she cannot participate in Contenders until the following Thursday).
- Two-way players may compete in Contenders prior to the start of the 2020 Overwatch League season if those players are Overwatch League rookies, or if those players competed in fewer than two Overwatch League matches in Stage 4 of the 2019 season.
We look forward to seeing how each team’s roster comes together as the league embarks on another exciting season in 2020!