The Overwatch League is not any extra. Activision Blizzard is shifting away from the esports league to take its aggressive Overwatch 2 scene elsewhere, the corporate introduced this week.
“We’re transitioning from the Overwatch League and evolving aggressive Overwatch in a brand new path,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson instructed Polygon. “We’re grateful to everybody who made OWL potential and stay centered on constructing our imaginative and prescient of a revitalized esports program. We’re excited to share particulars with you all within the close to future.”
When two Overwatch League groups — Houston Outlaws and Florida Mayhem — stepped onto the finals stage in Toronto in October, the way forward for Overwatch 2 esports was unclear. Activision Blizzard fired dozens of individuals in its esports division and introduced that the way forward for the league was as much as workforce possession. Overwatch League house owners have been to vote to proceed; in the event that they voted no, Activision Blizzard would pay out $6 million in termination charges.
Now that the votes are in, Activision Blizzard pays out $120 million to the 20 contracted groups. Founding Overwatch League groups paid Activision Blizzard $20 million every, in accordance with an ESPN report from 2017. Eight enlargement slots have been later bought for costs as much as $35 million, The Jacob Wolf Report mentioned, including that Activision Blizzard was owed $400 million in franchise funds from the Overwatch League and its related Name of Responsibility esports league. These excellent charges have reportedly been waived.
Activision Blizzard is reportedly trying to run its subsequent Overwatch 2 esports program with ESL FACEIT, Jacob Wolf reported in November. ESL FACEIT was bought to Savvy Gaming Group, backed up the Saudi Arabian authorities, in 2022 for $1.5 billion.
When the Overwatch League was introduced in 2016, it was billed as a option to legitimize esports. It imagined an esports program that operated just like the Nationwide Soccer League or Nationwide Hockey League, the place groups — tied to cities — had a everlasting spot and traveled to the house areas of different groups internationally for video games. Although conventional sports activities house owners purchased into the Overwatch League, together with New England Patriots proprietor Robert Kraft and Los Angeles Rams proprietor Stan Kroenke, that imaginative and prescient by no means actually got here to fruition.
For the primary few seasons, the Overwatch League operated primarily out of the Blizzard Area in Los Angeles, save for a number of “homestead” weekends the place groups examined the home-and-away sport format. Some groups even deliberate multi-million greenback arenas, like Philadelphia Fusion’s $50 million Fusion Area. (The lot stays empty, however proprietor Comcast Spectacor mentioned it intends to construct a multi-use area, nonetheless.) The house-and-away setup fizzled out because the Overwatch League transitioned into strict on-line play throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Issues bought a lot, a lot worse for the Overwatch League when large sponsors dropped help for Activision Blizzard following the California Civil Rights division’s sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit, which remains to be ongoing. In-person occasions kicked up once more in 2022, however curiosity within the league — and Overwatch 2 — continued to dwindle into 2023.
Activision Blizzard is adamant that aggressive Overwatch 2 isn’t finished for, no matter this new format could also be. The large, costly guess on the Overwatch League, although, has lastly been known as off.