The 2017 Overwatch World Cup has already begun

Last year's Overwatch World Cup drew more than three million votes from fans casting ballots for their national teams, saw competitors from more than 50 countries going head-to-head in regional qualifiers, and ended with a dominant performance by South Korea in the finals "that had us looking on in awe." It was, in other words, a big success, and so it will come as no surprise that it's happening again

This year's event will be set up a little bit differently than the last one. As of today, Blizzard will be tracking the skill ratings of the top 100 players from each country, in order to determine average national ratings. That process will run until April 26, at which point the top 32 nations will be determined. Each participating nation must then vote for an Overwatch World Cup National Committee, based upon nominations chosen by Blizzard from among "analysts, coaches, statisticians, and other authorities," who will recommend rosters for all stages of the competition. 

The tournament itself will feature four live group stage competitions across Europe, North America, and Asia, each of them pitting eight national teams against one another for a full week, with the two top finishers automatically qualifying for the World Cup finals at BlizzCon. Tickets to see the competitions live will go on sale in May, and they'll also be viewable online for free. 

Also viewable for free online, and right now, are the national qualification rankings. South Korea is currently in the lead, followed very closely by China and the US. Sweden is a little further behind but still in the mix, and the UK, France, Canada, Finland, Germany, Denmark, and Russia are all within striking distance. Blizzard said that more information about the 2017 Overwatch World Cup will be revealed as the event progresses.   

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.