With the Shanghai Masters, Overwatch gains another major tournament

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Shanghai Skyline

Previously, post-Overwatch World Cup, tier-one Overwatch events had been few and far between until the OWL started up again. But no longer, as in a similar spirit to Overwatch Contenders’ Pacific and Atlantic Showdown, a new off-season competition, the Overwatch Shanghai Masters, will debut in December.

Yesterday evening, Esports Shanghai Masters – a multi-esport event organized by the Shanghai-Jingan government – announced the Overwatch Shanghai Masters Invitational, a showcase of Chinese Overwatch League talent. The competition will take place on December 1, and pit the Hangzhou Spark, Shanghai Dragons, Chengdu Hunters, and Guangzhou Charge against each other. The Chinese fanbase is set to receive a landmark event – the first OWL-level single-elimination LAN tournament in China.

The event is made more special by the fact that fans can vote on the starting match-ups, potentially influencing how the results turn out. The first rounds will be best-of-five, but single-elimination, making every match count. The final round will be a best-of-seven, and will determine who is the best team in China.

Who could win the first Shanghai Masters?

If any team is going to win this Invitational, it’s going to be the Chengdu Hunters. Not only has this roster been consistent for the past year, but a majority of the players also competed at the Overwatch World Cup for Team China, and placed second. The performance of Hu “JinMu” Yi, Wenjie “Elsa” Luo, Xianyao “Yvetal” Li, and Chunting “Kyo” Kong against Team France during the Semifinals of the Overwatch World Cup was phenomenal. In particular, the synergy between JinMu’s Pharah and Yvetal’s Mercy made Team France look incredibly uncomfortable, with this synergy being used to deadly effect, creating ample space for the rest of their team.

In comparison, the Shanghai Dragons and Hangzhou Spark have had a rough off-season in terms of roster changes. The Shanghai Dragons lost Young-jin “Youngjin” Jin, Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh, and Kyungwoo “CoMa” Son, with Weida “Diya” Lu being put on a two-way contract with Team CC. The Hangzhou Spark recently lost Junki “Bazzi” Park, Hyeonggeun “Revenge” An, Shilong “Krystal” Cai, and Daun “NoSmite” Jeong, but are left with a solid roster of core members.

The remaining team, the Guangzhou Charge, has kept a majority of their roster intact during the off-season. But there are still five months until OWL begins, so there’s a lot of time for things to change.

On the Right Track

The beauty of the Shanghai Masters will be the chance for regional teams to test the roster they’ve built in the off-season. As the Overwatch League begins to establish itself as a premier esport league, secondary competitions must be available to showcase talent. Creating pride and rivalries within regions is vital to the longevity of the esport as a whole.

Competitions like the Contenders Gauntlet and now the Shanghai Masters Invitational are welcome additions to the Overwatch esports scene. On top of this new tournament, at Blizzcon Jon Spector made hints about a new mid-season tournament to complement the barebones All-Stars event that takes place every year. Hopefully, these new events will act similar to Dota 2’s Minors, or even mimic previous Overwatch APEX tournaments, in filling the gap between major tournaments. Ideally, these will provide refreshing and exhilarating competitions for the fans, independent of the OWL itself, something common to many successful esports.

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