Overwatch Tiers: Explained

POSTED BY Neowyld October 28, 2018 in Overwatch Esports Info
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In esports, there are many different levels of competition based off leagues, performance, skill rating, and more. Some esports use a system called tiers to accurately categorize teams into skill groups. This makes it easier to recognize how teams stack up against each other, especially when there is no team ranking system like in Overwatch. It also can be used to show how much experience a player has gotten practice in. Each game can be different in the way their tiers work. They can be more fluid or more strict. Sometimes it can be complex to figure out which tier a team can be considered. In Overwatch, it is quite simple, as there are three main tiers based on leagues.

Tier 1: Overwatch League

As everyone knows, Overwatch League is meant to be the top level of play in the competitive scene. The teams are franchised, the players and staff receive benefits and salaries, and it receives the buff of the resources from Blizzard Entertainment.  Typically, it is referred to as “OWL teams” because that is more universal, but Tier 1 is synonymous.

Examples of Tier 1 teams include New York Excelsior, London Spitfire, and the Seoul Dynasty.

Tier 2: Contenders

In the modern scene of Overwatch, Tier 2 can only be referred to as being in Contenders. In the past, Tier 2 had some discrepancy. Teams who did well in minor tournaments and the few majors there were could have been considered Tier 2. Teams that could compete with said teams could have been considered as well. This was before the Path to Pro structure was created, as well as Blizzard’s change in tournament Licensing.

Examples of Tier 2 teams include XL2 Academy (NA), Element Mystic (KR), and Eagle Gaming (EU).

The “2.5” Scene

This is an artificial term created by some teams who feel as if they are better than Tier 3 but are not quite accepted as Tier 2 as they are not in Contenders. Most of the time they were teams that could have previously been considered T2, but the change in structure did not favor them. Typically, these teams have reached Contenders Trials (the promotion-relegation tournament between Open Division and Contenders). This status is not used in a widespread manner, and for reasons of simplicity, is not formally recognized.

Examples of teams that could be considered Tier 2.5 (Both present and former) include Eminent (NA defunct), and Tea and Biscuits (EU).

Tier 3: Top Open Division and Tournament-winning Teams

Tier 3 is mostly referred to as the top 32 teams in Open Division along with teams who have proven that they can compete with other Tier 3 teams in tournaments. It should not be referred to as the entirety of Open Division or the amateur scene.

In competitive Overwatch’s main Discord server, The O.W., there is a Tier 3 role for teams who have met the credentials. These credentials include:

  1. The team must have a stable core of 4 members over the past month.
  2. The team must match one of the following criteria
    • Reaching the Top 25% rankings of 3 online tournaments in the last month (e.g. For 32 participants: reach Top 8; For 16 participants: reach Top 4)
    • Reaching the Open Division Top 32 (2018 Season 2 for EU, NA and SK) or Top 8 (2018 Season for other regions).
    • Roster already including several players with the “Top Tier Competitive” role

Tournaments must be serious and recognized by the O.W. to be considered.

It is important to ensure that this term is not loosely used to reference all teams participating in Open Division because that would devalue both the role and the status. Teams who have not proven themselves in competition are not Tier 3 for entering Open Division.

Examples of teams that achieved Tier 3 in the previous Open Division include: Alpha Sky (NA), elo.Tick (EU), and Kraken (NA).

Read more on Tier 3.

The Amateur Scene

“Amateur” can be used to describe anyone who does not meet the criteria above. They are typically teams with players that cannot reach the standards of Tier 3. This is where most players begin in their journey to make a name for themselves. It is not a tier but rather a term used to reference all who are not considered for one. The skill range can differ from platinum teams who are just starting off to teams that can compete with their Tier 3 counterparts.


I hope this article was informative. For updates and engagements, follow me on Twitter @Neowyld.