The Overwatch League, the Overwatch 2 esports league that (considerably ill-advisedly) adopted an NFL-like franchise mannequin, died final yr. The brainchild of former Blizzard president Bobby Kotick, it did not flourish due to costly buy-ins, the covid pandemic kneecapping in-person occasions, and extra—however after it died, Blizzard promised one thing would are available its wake. And certainly, one thing has risen from its ashes: the Overwatch Champions Sequence, or OWCS.
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Introduced January 23 through weblog put up, the Overwatch Champions Sequence is Blizzard’s “new premiere worldwide aggressive circuit” open to gamers throughout three areas: North America; Europe, the Center East, and North Africa (EMEA); and Asia. The league has partnered with the ESL FACEIT Group (EFG), an esports platform that may enable professional and beginner gamers to search out Overwatch 2 tournaments, assist individuals manage third-party competitions exterior of the official OWCS pipeline, streamline statistics, and make your complete esports expertise simpler for gamers.
FACEIT has helped administer esports leagues for video games like Rainbow Six Siege, Counter-Strike 2, and League of Legends. It’s a wise transfer to implement one thing like FACEIT, as with out the city-based, franchise components, the league will want a hub by means of which all professional and beginner gamers can collect, test stats, and discover tourneys.
“A thriving esports scene is vital to a recreation as aggressive as Overwatch 2, and we’re very excited to be coming into this subsequent period for the franchise with EFG,” mentioned government producer Jared Neuss in a press launch.
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This new league gained’t be composed of city-based groups just like the OWL was, however will as an alternative comply with an open-circuit mannequin like aggressive Dota 2 and CS:GO leagues. Tourneys shall be made up of player-created squads that take part in open qualifiers in an try and make it to the principle occasion of their area. In North America and EMEA, groups will battle it out in 4 aggressive phases all through 2024, together with two worldwide OWCS competitions. “Every stage will function a web based Open Qualifier and Primary Occasion the place gamers can earn circuit factors, that are used to find out worldwide occasion qualification,” the announcement explains. In response to the weblog put up, the OWCS will kick-off in NA and EMEA on March 1, 2024. I hope there’s a controller league.
The OWCS will even have its personal main, in-person match ala the OWL Grand FInals, which as soon as had DJ Khaled carry out in-between matches. Due to a partnership with DreamHack (one other ESL firm recognized for placing on gaming conventions and esports tournaments), there shall be two main OWCS occasions this yr: a summer time tourney in the midst of this inaugural season, and a significant finale occasion within the fall. The OWCS Main will happen at DreamHack Dallas from Could 31 to June 2, whereas the grand finale will lastly deliver a significant Overwatch esports occasion to Europe—DreamHack Stockholm will host and crown the first-ever OWCS champs.
Although Overwatch 2 has struggled because it changed the unique hero shooter in late 2022, its esports league remained a beacon of hope and solidarity amongst the all the time passionate Overwatch group. It’s nice to see that Blizzard has adopted by means of on its promise to maintain Overwatch esports alive by means of the OWCS. Now I simply should discover a new crew to root for.