As the playoff race heats up in Stage 4, coaches and players are focused on the task at hand—but behind the scenes, teams already are gearing up for the future. As soon as the inaugural season of the Overwatch League wraps up at Barclays Center in late July, teams will need to prepare for the 2019 season and beyond. As such, the league has set the following guidelines in place for roster construction.
Overwatch League Key Dates
Aug. 1, 2018: Signing window opens for teams to negotiate extensions with current players or to sign players from their affiliated Contenders team. Teams may also begin making player trades.
Sept. 9, 2018: Inaugural-season agreements officially end. Any players not under contract become free agents.
Sept. 9–Oct. 7, 2018: Exclusive window for Overwatch League expansion teams to sign free agents.
Oct. 8, 2018: Free-agent signing window opens for all teams.
All teams must have a minimum of eight players under contract by Dec. 1, 2018. Teams may sign or trade players until a final deadline during the 2019 season that will be announced at a later date.
Players who turn 18 prior to the season deadline are eligible to sign Overwatch League contracts for the 2019 season. While the date has yet to be finalized, players born before May 1, 2001, will be eligible.
Beginning with the 2019 season, the term of player agreements will no longer be fixed at one year with an additional one-year option. Players and teams may negotiate contracts for up to three years, with a maximum of one year as an option in addition to one or two guaranteed years.
All contracts must be submitted to the League Office for review and approval.
Contenders Roster Rules
Beginning with Season 2 of Contenders this year, Contenders rosters will be capped at eight players. Overwatch League teams may reach out to all Contenders players to arrange tryouts and negotiate contracts, provided they inform the player’s current team within 24 hours. Signings of a Contenders player may be subject to payment of a buyout fee made by the Overwatch League team to the Contenders team. In a change from Season 1’s fixed buyout of 25%, these fees now are negotiable, but are capped at 100 percent of the player’s average annual base salary in the Overwatch League, plus any applicable signing bonus.
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 must notify the league as well as the parent team 24 hours before contacting a non-affiliated academy player to arrange a tryout or negotiate a contract.
The Overwatch League also will institute select blackout windows during each season to minimize disruption to the competition leading up to and during Contenders playoffs.
For the 2019 Overwatch League season, teams and players may negotiate the right to designate the player as eligible to compete in Contenders on an affiliated 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 during each Overwatch League stage, and those players must be identified and submitted to the League Office prior to each stage.
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 of 12 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.
- Two-way players lose their Contenders eligibility if they appear in more than two Overwatch League matches in a stage.
- A maximum of two designated two-way players may compete in any single Contenders match.
- No player will be eligible to appear in both Contenders and Overwatch League matches in the same week.
We are excited to see how next season’s rosters come together and look forward to welcoming more players to the Overwatch League next season!