Overwatch World Cup group stage breakdown

New York Excelsior DPS Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-yeol will be joining the South Korean lineup for the Overwatch World Cup. Robert Paul/Provided by Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch League withdrawals? Us too. No fear, the Overwatch League World Cup kicks off tonight at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN3.

Here's what you need to know.

What: The third annual global Overwatch competition with a total prize pool of $488,000.

Who: Twenty-four countries divided into four group stages (six teams per grouping). Top-two countries from each group stage will then compete in the Overwatch World Cup 2018 finals to crown a champion.

Where: The four group stages will be held in cities across the globe: Incheon, South Korea, Los Angeles, Bangkok and Paris. The finals will take place in Anaheim at BlizzCon 2018.

When: Group stages run from Aug. 16-Sept. 23. Overwatch World Cup 2018 finals will take place from Nov. 2-3.

Prize Pool: Each of the 24 teams will receive $15,000 for competing with an additional $16,000 awarded to each of the eight teams who advance to the Overwatch World Cup 2018 finals.

Country Selection: Through the end of competitive Season 9 (April 28), the 20 countries with the highest average skill rating (SR) of each country's top 150 players were invited to complete in the 2018 Overwatch World Cup. The four hosts (France, South Korea, Thailand and the United States) automatically qualified. If a host country makes the top-20 through average SR, the 21st-ranked country will take their spot, and so on.

Team Breakdown: Each country will be represented by a general manager, coach and community leader. The league selected General Managers while the Overwatch player base voted on coaches and community leaders (final round of coach voting is limited to top-150 players in each region). Rosters contain up to 12 players, top-seven players travel to each Overwatch World Cup event.

Match Details: Each match will consist of four maps, plus a potential fifth map if the score is tied after four maps. Map selection and order for all groups and matches will be decided by Blizzard.


Group Stages:

South Korea is the clear favorite to advance from this group, and win the entire event. South Korea has won each of the previous two Overwatch World Cups and has yet to lose a single match in the process (13-0, +36 map differential).

The South Korean team is the only team with all 12 players on Overwatch League (OWL) rosters and is one of three teams to have an OWL coach, Hyeon-sang "Pavane" Yu of the New York Excelsior. Pavane picked up six players from the Excelsior, the most players from one OWL team on one Overwatch World Cup team.

The rest of the roster consists of All-Star caliber players from around the league, literally. Eleven of their twelve players were selected to join the OWL All-Star game in August, six of which will be starting.

Outside of South Korea, Finland and Russia are the most likely to advance. Finland (7) and Russia (2) are the only two others teams in the group to feature Overwatch League players. Team Russia finished second in the inaugural Overwatch World Cup 2016 (losing to South Korea), but failed to make it out of the group stage in 2017. Finland also had a strong showing in 2016, finishing fourth, but they also failed to make it out of the group stage in 2017.


The Los Angeles group looks to be one of the most predictable of the four groupings, with USA and Canada as the favorites. The United States has nine Overwatch League players, second most among all countries, and has finished among the top-eight each of the last two Overwatch World Cups. The USA also has the coach of Dallas Fuel, Aaron "Aero" Atkins, who after taking over the Fuel in Stage 4, led the team to a 6-4 record (more wins than it had in Stages 1-3 combined) and an appearance in the Stage 4 playoffs.

Canada, on the other hand, has five current OWL players and FĂ©lix "xQc" Lengyel, who was kicked off the Dallas Fuel roster during Stage 2 after multiple suspensions. Outside of USA and Canada, none of the other countries in this group has any players from the Overwatch League, so it is hard to imagine one of them advancing beyond the group stage.


From the Bangkok group, expect Sweden to advance with relative ease. Sweden's roster contains eight Overwatch league players (third most), and four of those players were on the same team (Florida Mayhem). That synergy should work to Team Sweden's advantage, especially considering Florida Mayhem head coach Vytis "Mineral" Lasaitis will also be coaching Team Sweden. The Swedes have finished among the top-three each of the previous two Overwatch World Cups; the only other team to do so was South Korea.

Outside of Sweden, the rest of the group appears to be wide open. Spain could be the favorite to advance with three OWL players, but China and Australia both finished among the top-eight in 2017.


The Paris grouping is perhaps the most unpredictable of all groups. There are only five OWL players in the entire group and France has four of them, making them an early favorite. France finished fourth in 2017 and fifth in 2016, joining South Korea and Sweden as the only countries to finish top-five each of the two previous Overwatch World Cups.

Outside of Team France, the United Kingdom might be the other team to watch here. The roster features the only non-French player from the OWL in this group, Isaac "Boombox" Charles of the Philadelphia Fusion. United Kingdom finished fifth in 2017, but did not qualify in 2016.