Overwatch Rulebook

Last Modified: March 8, 2021

These rules are subject to change at the administrator’s discretion. If rules should change, all captains will be notified accordingly.

The Handbook’s General Rules apply to all CEA games, please read them first! However, any direct contradictions mentioned in this Overwatch-specific rulebook take precedence.

I. Season Structure

CEA Overwatch Spring 2022 Season Calendar

  • Feb 5: Pre-season
  • Feb 12: Week 1 (Round Robin Stage)
    • All Star nominations open
    • MVP nominations open
  • Feb 19: Week 2 (Round Robin Stage)
  • Feb 26: Week 3 (Round Robin Stage)
    • Captain award nominations open
    • Paragon, Player award nominations open
  • Mar 5: Week 4 (Swiss Stage) Round Robin records determine initial seed.
  • Mar 12: Week 5 (Swiss Stage)
  • Mar 19: Week 6 (Swiss Stage)
  • Mar 26: Week 7
  • Apr 2: Week 8 (Optional All-Star Exhibition Match Date)
    • MVP voting begins
  • Apr 9: Week 9 (Optional All-Star Exhibition Match Date)
  • Apr 16: Week 10 (Octofinals, Round 1)
    • Spring 2022 Playoffs are Double Elimination until the Finals
  • Apr 23: Week 11 (Octofinals, Round 2)
    • MVP voting closes
  • Apr 30: Week 12 (Quarterfinals)
  • May 7: Week 13 Semifinals
  • May 13: Week 14 Grand Finals, Third Place match
    • MVP & League Awards Presented

CEA Season Format Overview

  • Pre-Season: One practice match which follows the same rules and weekly structure as the regular season. The pre-season is mandatory so that the CEA and teams can work out logistic kinks before charity prizes are on the line! Read the specific game rules for the weekly schedule.
  • Regular Season: The Regular Season is divided into two stages designed to encourage a competitive tournament for all skill levels. Power-rankings will divide teams into one of four brackets for the first three weeks of the tournament.
    • Teams compete Round Robin for the first stage of the Tournament.
    • Concluding the Round Robin stage, the Tournament continues in a Swiss format. This round is seeded by Round Robin records.  
    • The next six matches continue in the Swiss format.  
    • After week 9, the top 8 teams continue to the Playoffs.
  • Playoffs: The 8 teams with the highest records compete in a double elimination tournament until the Finals. The final round is single elmination, even if a team has been undefeated until the Finals.
  • Broadcast: Spring 2022 Regular Season matches will not be broadcasted by the CEA.
    • However, the Game Lead for Overwatch is recruiting volunteers for a Community Broadcast and encourages all players and their friends to participate as broadcasters, commentators, or production support.
    • The Spring 2022 Semifinals and Grand Finals will be broadcast live on Twitch with commentators. Schedule and rough timing will be announced at the beginning of Playoffs.

Weekly Structure of the League

  • Tuesday 10AM PST: Matchups for the upcoming match weekend distributed (assuming all previous round match results have been entered).
  • Saturday 11:00AM PST: All matches official begin on Saturday 11AM PST/2PM EST. The CEA observes US Daylight Saving Time.
    • In the case of either team having a conflict with an Open Division match, the default match time will move to 10AM PST (1PM EST) to accommodate.
    • In the case of either team having an issue with another CEA Game, default match time will be moved to 2PM PST (5PM EST) to accomodate.
    • If the new match time cannot be accomodated, team Captains may select an alternate match time anytime between Saturday 11:00AM PST and Monday 11:59PM PST during match week.
    • All matches must be complete by Monday 11:59PM PST to avoid a forfeit.  
  • Each team plays one match per week with results due by Sunday at 11:59PM PST. In the event of a reschedule, Captains must submit results ASAP following the match.
  • If not enough players on your roster are able to make the default match time, contact the opposing captain as outlined in our ‘Match Rescheduling’ section to see if they’re able to accommodate a reschedule.

II. Overwatch Overview

  1. Player Eligibility: All players participating in Overwatch competitions must have an active (Americas) account in good standing displayed on the CEA tournament management platform. Only registered team members playing under their own account are allowed to play for a team.
  2. Team Roster Size: A team consists of 6-14 participants. Rules for qualifications for rostered members can be found in CEA general rules.
    1. After the beginning of Regular Season play (Week 1 matches), a player rostered on a team may not transfer to another roster within the same company for the same game without the Game Lead’s approval.
      1. The main circumstance permitting a transfer would be a team losing players and falling below the minimum team size.
      2. Companies with multiple teams playing the same game may have one player on multiple rosters as outlined in the general rules under "Team Eligibility." Being a floater is not considered transferring.
    2. After Week 5, removing players from the roster does not free up additional spots.
  3. Registration: The Overwatch registration fee will be $240 per team. The captain pays this fee during registration on the CEA website.
  4. Game Version: All players must have their game up to date with the latest patch. PC only.
  5. Charity Selection: In agreement with Blizzard, the CEA will place the following restrictions on charity selections:
    1. Teams who nominate charities before Sept 11will have their submissions reviewed by Blizzard. Teams may be asked to change their charities after review.
    2. Teams who do not nominate charities by Sept 11, or who wish to change their charity after Sept 11, will be required to select a charity from a pre-approved list.

III. Rules

  1. Game preparations: It is the responsibility of the team Captains to verify game settings prior to match start. Agreements between the teams/players must be made in writing and saved as a screenshot, or else the game lead will have to assume that it did not happen. The match will be played on a standard competitive ruleset based upon the current season, with the following adjustments made:
    1. Workshop Code:
      1. JS0QV
      2. (86K2F -- Alternate settings for if both captains agree to disable pause on disconnect)
      3. Both of these codes apply all of the following settings except for the Series length and the visibility settings.
    2. Series length:
      1. Pre-Season & Season: First-to-3 Wins (Optional Reschedule to First-to-2 with approval)
      2. Playoffs: First-to-3 (No option for First-to-2)
      3. Grand Finals: First-to-4
    3. Visibility: Invite Only (Recommended)
    4. Preset: Competitive
    5. Lobby:
      1. Pause Game On Player Disconnect: Yes
      2. Max spectators may be increased to accommodate more persons following the guidelines provided below and in the CEA General Rules Handbook.
      3. Data Center Preference: Set to "Best Available" by default, but may be adjusted by the team hosting the lobby (see below for hosting rules).
    6. Modes/All:
      1. Kill Cam: Disabled
      2. Skins: Disabled
    7. Maps:
      1. All maps are disabled except for the map that is currently selected to be played.
    8. Heroes:
      1. All heroes enabled.
  2. Heroes and Role Lock:
    1. Role Lock (2-2-2) is observed in the CEA tournament. There are no additional requirements locking individual players to a specific role during a series of matches unlike OWL rules; players may only change when the lobby allows doing so during the normal course of play.
    2. Hero pools are not currently observed outside of Overwatch League. This is subject to change to follow Ranked/Open Division rule sets as necessary.
  3. Lobby Hosting:
    1. The team that is on the left side of the bracket will be responsible for setting up the lobby by default. If both teams agree, the lobby host duty can be passed off to another player.
    2. During the playoffs, the higher seed is the default host for the match.
  4. Map Selection:
    1. Map Pool:
      1. The map pool will consist of all maps in the current competitive map pool.
        1. Presently, there is no formal map pool, but Horizon and Paris are not available to be selected.
      2. Swiss + Round Robin Stage:
        1. All 9 weeks of matches (all non-playoff matches) will nominally follow the First-to-3 format (5 rounds of play, first to 3 wins).
        2. The team on the left side of the bracket will be responsible for hosting the lobby and selecting the server location in accordance with guidelines set out in 5. Server Location.
        3. The team listed on the left side of the bracket will be responsible for selecting the first map and server location.
        4. Maps are to be played in the following order for First-to-3 (and First-to-2) format(s):
          1. Control
          2. Escort
          3. Hybrid
          4. Assault
          5. Loop order from Control, Escort (as necessary to settle ties)
        5. After the initial map, the loser of the previous map gets to select either the next map to be played, OR if they want to attack or defend first. The winner gets to pick the other, if applicable. In the case of a draw, the team that selects the next map and the team that selects the initial sides will remain the same for the map following the draw. Server location in regular season is static as selected by host
      3. Playoffs:
        1. In the playoffs, the format for Octafinal rounds will be 5 rounds, First-to-3. For Quarterfinals and Semifinal matches, the format will be 7 rounds, First-to-4. For the Grand Finals match, the format will be 9 rounds, First-to-5.
        2. The team of the higher seed will be responsible for hosting the lobby.
        3. The team of the higher seed gets to pick the initial control map and server location.
        4. For each subsequent map, the losing team of the previous map (or in case of a draw, the team that most recently lost a map as with the regular season rules) may pick one of the three following choices:
          1. Next map (following map pick order)
          2. Starting Side (Attack/Defense)
          3. Server Location (following server selection guidelines below)
        5. After the losing team selects their first choice, the winning team selects their preference for either of the two remaining options. The losing team selects the preference for the final option.
          1. If done correctly this results in the losing side selecting their preference for two of the three options and the winning team picks preference for the final option, in the order of Losing Team > Winning Team > Losing Team
        6. No maps may be repeated from the pool, unless all maps of that type have already been played.
        7. For the First-to-3 format, map order is:
          1. Control
          2. Escort
          3. Hybrid
          4. Assault
          5. Loop order from Control, Escort (as necessary to settle ties)
        8. For the First-to-4 format, the map order is:
          1. Control
          2. Hybrid
          3. Assault
          4. Escort
          5. Control
          6. Hybrid
          7. Escort
          8. Loop order from Control, Escort (as necessary to settle ties)
        9. For the First-to-5 format, the map order is:
          1. Control
          2. Hybrid
          3. Assault
          4. Escort
          5. Control
          6. Hybrid
          7. Escort
          8. Assault
          9. Loop order from Control, Escort (as necessary to settle ties)
  5. Server Selection:
    1. The host team picks the initial server location.
    2. During regular season, teams cannot select to change location if they are the losing team. It is expected to remain static unless the location is experiencing technical difficulties, in which case the host selects a secondary location.
    3. In playoff matches, server selection becomes part of the Map Loser/Winner selection process so location may change in between maps.
    4. Choosing a server location to intentionally cause ping issues or otherwise grief an opponent will not be tolerated. If teams are suspected of doing so intentionally, please notify the game lead. Action taken may vary, but generally this will lead to loss of server selection for the instigating team.
      1. As most teams are based in North America, this usually means sticking to NA servers, but if a majority of players are in a separate location you may pick accordingly.
    5. If there are any disputes during a match contact the game lead.
  6. Substitute Players: There is no limit to the amount of substitutes used from your roster. Substitutes can only join in between maps. If a player disconnects in the middle of a map and is unable to reconnect, the map must be played out without subbing in a new player to fill the empty spot.
  7. Scheduling/Forfeits: The first game of each round must begin at the specified time. See [General Rules] in the handbook for rescheduling rules and post in the #reschedule-reporting channel on the CEA Discord server if a reschedule is agreed upon. See the Captain's Guide for instructions on how to report a reschedule or forfeit.
  8. Disconnects: In the case that a player(s) disconnects, the team is allowed to continue to play the match at a disadvantage.
  9. Re-host: A re-host can only be played with prior Game Lead approval. Please contact the Game Lead via Discord to receive approval. In a re-hosted game each participant must choose the same side as they picked at the start of the original match. Disconnects and lag issues will only qualify for a re-host if the issue occurs within the first 60 seconds of the game. In the event of a game server crash, the Game Lead will determine the next steps.
  10. Streaming:
    1. Streaming is allowed as per the CEA Handbook, however CEA matches may not be streamed by any party during official Overwatch League broadcasts.
    2. Stream sniping or otherwise using external streams to cheat in game is not permitted. Streams should be on a delay to discourage this (2~3 minutes is suggested).
  11. Observing:
    1. Building upon the rules stated in the general handbook, we encourage (but do not force) teams to allow team-locked spectators. CEA's community is built upon mutual trust among teams, so we expect teams to act ethically. Additionally, with both consent from both teams, spectators may be allowed to use third person spectating privileges.
    2. There is not an easy way to enforce the restriction of voice communication from any spectators (outside of locating recordings from offending teams). Due to this situation, if either team for any reason prefers to not allow spectators, then both teams must honor this and remove any persons not actively playing in the current round.
    3. Regardless of the observer's perspective, teams are not allowed to communicate with observers while in-game (via text chat, voice chat, or anything else) with the exception of CEA staff, or CEA designated referees. In-game coaching is forbidden, and can result in forfeits of maps. Talking with team members in between maps while waiting for the next round to start is permitted, but do not let this hold up the out-of-game pace.
  12. Optional First-to-2 Details:
    1. The biggest defining rule for this is to respect your fellow captains and their time. The change to First-to-3 for regular matches is new and is something we are experimenting with, and this is meant to help relieve any unwanted pressure created in moving to the more standard First-to-3 format.
    2. If teams wish to invoke this, it must be requested in the same way as a reschedule is requested (getting approval, posting in the appropriate channel, etc.)
    3. The game lead will confirm/approve the change.
    4. Scores are still reported as First-to-3 match using the map using the expected map differential based on score. Samples of this are included below:
      1. A scoreline of 2-0 would become a 3-0
      2. A scoreline of 2-1-# (one or more draws and a loss) becomes 3-2
      3. A scoreline of 2-0-# (one or more draws, but no loss) becomes a 3-1
      4. Any questions regarding scores can be directed to the Overwatch game lead.

IV. Technical Issues

  1. The default pause hotkey in Overwatch is shift + ctrl + =. Lobby leaders should commit this to memory.
  2. The Lobby Leader will have the ability to pause the game and must do so at the first fair opportunity once the pause request is seen.
    1. A fair opportunity to pause is defined as a time when there is no teamfight occurring. In the case a pause is requested during a teamfight, teams must disengage before pausing, so that players won’t be interrupted in the middle of a fight.
  3. Team that requested a pause must announce the reason before or immediately after the pause.
  4. Each team is granted a total of 10 minutes pause time during the match.
  5. When resuming the game from pause, both teams need to confirm in chat that they are ready to continue.
  6. If the total pause time of 10 minutes runs out, the game has to be resumed. If one team refuses to resume the game, the opposing team will receive a default win.
  7. Admins hold the right to request teams to pause during the match in case of any other issues, and the time used to pause the match will not count for the team it was requested to.
  8. If both teams agree, you may disable "Pause Game On Player Disconnect" in the Match/Lobby settings. This will remove the immediate pause if the server detects a player disconnecting. Since this can occur in the middle of a fight, it is not recommended to have enabled in playoffs, but has been enabled due to past issues with disconnect. It may be disabled if both captains agree.

V. Contact Info

VI. Appendix

  • Map Pools:
    • As of April 15, 2020, there are no more map pools; however the following maps are excluded from competitive play:
      • Horizon Lunar Colony
      • Paris
  • Best-of-X vs. First-to-Y Formats:
    • First-to-Y (shortened to FtY) refers to a series where the winner is the team to reach a score of Y points first. This is, in practice, the format that CEA OW has used since 2019.
    • Best-of-X (shortened to BoX) refers to a series where at most X matches will be played, and ends once a team mathematically cannot be outscored by their opponent. This is the more commonly known format in many cases. In some scenarios, since the specified number is the "maximum" number of maps played, draw may result in odd outcomes. While previously rules specified Best-of-X for series, in practice we used First-to-Y equivalents.