Blizzard have announced some big changes to the lower tiers of Overwatch esports, particularly Overwatch Contenders, the 'development' league announced back in May.
Here's our thorough briefing on the Overwatch League.
Existing regional leagues will be folded into Contenders: Overwatch APEX, Overwatch Premier Series, and the Overwatch Pacific Championship, which will be renamed Contenders Korea, Contenders China, and Contenders Pacific, respectively. New Contenders leagues will be established in Australia and South America, joining the existing North America and Europe regions to bring the total number of Contenders leagues to seven.
Each year of Contenders will have three seasons, with prize pools worth up to $100,000 already having been offered. If the Overwatch League is the game's premiership, Contenders is its first division, and it's a big deal in its own right. Its first season saw some of the biggest names in esports competing, including EnvyUs, Cloud9, Misfits, and Team Gigantti. You can learn more at its website.
The Overwatch Open Division also returns in January, in the same seven regions as Contenders. This is the chance for ordinary players to make it in Overwatch esports: "players who reach the necessary ranks will be eligible to compete in the Overwatch Open Division," say Blizzard, and if you do well, you'll then be eligible for Contenders Trials. This is a promotion/relegation tournament that will be held at the end of every Contenders season, and will give you a great chance to be noticed by Contenders teams.
Here's the announcement by Blizzard.