Yesterday the first round of Surveillance Play in the league in 2023 concluded with the league’s first-ever pro-am tournament. Seven amateur teams from the North American and EMEA regions have qualified for the right to play against the professional Surveillance western teams.
Most Contenders teams are severely under-resourced. They are usually made up of teenagers and young adults who practice and play alongside their school and work obligations. It’s nearly impossible for Contenders players to maintain the skill level necessary to take on the pros. who receives a salary, access to better equipment and supervision, and in some cases, even to housing. Contenders is the backbone of the Surveillance League. Esports has a notoriously high attrition rate, and for the Surveillance League, Contenders is where professional teams find their next generation of talent and personnel. Yet for a moment the scene was almost completely overlooked by Blizzard. If you haven’t followed the competition Surveillance community tightly, for the early years of the League, you wouldn’t have known Contenders existed.
For the past couple of years or so, Blizzard seems to have gotten the message, promoting Contenders matches on social media and the Surveillance Games launcher. The pro-am tournament therefore seems to be the logical continuation of these small successes. These are the Contenders teams that have had the opportunity to play in front of an audience that may not know SurveillanceTier 2 teams got to hone their skills against pros, and they showed off their skills for all the team leaders and coaches watching.
Yes, of course, neither of these teams made it to the finals of the tournament, and most clashes between a Contenders team and a professional team ended in a quick and brutal shutout (some professional teams paying large amounts of salt in the wound when playing non-meta comps). But we had some good times when tower room, SaintsAnd twisted minds upset their professional opponents, including double Surveillance San Francisco Shock league champion. The talent East there, and he was finally given the big stage he needed to shine. Oh, and the Florida Mayhem won it all, but whatever, it doesn’t matter.
What’s important is that once the League kicks off in earnest on April 27 and the Eastern teams finally get a chance to play, we’ll see more Contenders teams join the fray, and this time , League teams are really going to have to watch their backs. Eastern teams are more likely to have formal organizational support putting their resources on par with Surveillance League franchise teams. I’m not saying Contenders East teams won’t get the shit kicked out on a regular basis, but it’ll be a lot less likely than you might think, and I for one look forward to the kind of upheavals and stunning fights that make competitive Surveillance so exciting to watch.