Why the Overwatch League is shutting down


  • After the conclusion of the 2023 season, two-thirds of the Overwatch League teams decided to leave the league, prompting Activision Blizzard to abandon the current model.
  • Activision Blizzard will pay nearly $120 million to 20 contracted teams as they move toward creating a new competitiveness framework Surveillance play.
  • The closure of the Overwatch League was no surprise, given Activision Blizzard’s overblown ambitions, financial burdens, and the impact of a gender discrimination scandal that led sponsors to cut ties and a decline in interest from fans. fan.

Following the conclusion of the 2023 season, a vote was held by the owners of the 20 contracted Surveillance teams regarding the future of the Overwatch League. With approximately two-thirds of teams choosing to leave the Overwatch League, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson announced that the company plans to abandon the current model in favor of creating a new framework for competitiveness Surveillance play.

After the vote, Activision Blizzard will pay nearly $120 million to the 20 contracted teams; while the company announced that it will “step away” from this competitive eSports program, it will “remain focused” on offering an eSports program; however, not under the Overwatch League banner. Announced in 2016 and founded in 2017, the Overwatch League sought to revolutionize and legitimize eSports by adopting a city-based franchise system similar to conventional sports leagues such as the NFL or NBA. While it didn’t exactly replicate traditional sports, the Overwatch League played a vital role in the development of eSports.

Related:Overwatch 2 Season 8: Release Date, New Hero, and Battle Pass Info

What happened to the Overwatch League?

Why have franchise owners turned their backs on the Overwatch League?

High definition image of the Overwatch League crowd.

In the run-up to the 2023 Overwatch League finals, Activision Blizzard has massively reduced the staff of its eSports division, a fact that has sent warning signals to numerous fans and no doubt to the owners of the franchise. In October 2023, Activision Blizzard’s esports leadership team released a plan for the owners of the 20 Overwatch League franchises, as well as documents allowing team owners to cast their votes on the league’s future with a resounding majority by two thirds. , team owners have decided to leave the Overwatch League, a decision that confirmed speculation that Activision Blizzard will pull the plug.

Related: Overwatch 2 Cancels PvE Hero Mode, Reveals Seasons 5-7 Roadmap

While undoubtedly disappointing for fans of the league, the closure of the Overwatch League will likely come as no surprise, as Activision Blizzard’s lofty ambitions never materialized. With early proclamations that each of the 20 teams would build their own stadiums and take part in home and away games similar to traditional sports, Activision Blizzard appears to have vastly overestimated the degree of interest and marketability eSports possesses. Despite this, however, in their announcement, the company spokesperson expressed their gratitude to the fans and players for helping make the Overwatch League possible.

What went wrong in the Overwatch League?

Financial obligations and the gender discrimination scandal

According to a 2017 ESPN report, the Overwatch League’s founding teams each paid Activision Blizzard $20 million, with 8 expansion slots later selling for up to $35 million each. This extraordinarily cumbersome franchise fee has made it incredibly difficult for team owners and financiers to see a return on their large investments; However, the Jacob Wolfe Report found that the vast majority of teams in the Surveillance AND call of Duty leagues deferred franchise payments during the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a result, Activision Blizzard was owed a total of between $390 and $420 million, a fact that may have contributed to the majority’s decision to break up Overwatch League.

Related: Overwatch: 10 Memes That Sum Up the Game Perfectly

Although Overwatch League teams’ pending entry fees were canceled in mid-2023, Activision Blizzard’s early ambitious claims never came to fruition, a fact made even worse by a gender discrimination scandal that has rocked Activision Blizzard . In 2021, a lawsuit alleging that the company engaged in abuse, discrimination, and retaliation against its female employees was filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Following the announcement of this lawsuit, several major sponsors cut ties with the Overwatch League; furthermore, the fans’ interest in the championship and Surveillance 2 has collapsed in recent years.

The future of Overwatch eSports

Mauga puffs out his chest in Overwatch 2

Even though the Overwatch League will soon be officially dead, as noted by Activision Blizzard’s spokesperson, the Overwatch eSports concept is very much alive and well. While yet to be confirmed by the company, an industry insider, and an investigative journalist, Jacob Wolf revealed in early November 2023 that Activision Blizzard hopes to run the next iteration of its Overwatch esports program in partnership with ESL FACEIT, a leading eSports organizer. and broadcaster, and a subsidiary of the Saudi Public Investment Fund owned by the Savvy Games Group. ESL FACEIT is the company behind the broadcast and promotion of Activision Blizzard’s other esports organization, the Call of Duty League.

With negotiations between ESL FACEIT and Activision Blizzard apparently long before the Overwatch League team owner vote was called, it appears that serious doubts about the league’s future have been long-standing. While the Overwatch League has been incredibly influential in legitimizing esports on the global stage, it has proven to be a very expensive venture for franchise owners, to the point that many of the team owners who also own traditional sports franchises are expected to put a permanent commitment. claim an end to their short-lived eSports experiments. Although Activision Blizzard is firmly competitive Surveillance Esports gaming will return, the Overwatch League will be gone forever.

Editor’s Note: A lawsuit has been filed against Activision Blizzard by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleging that the company engages in abuse, discrimination and retaliation against its female employees. Activision Blizzard has denied the allegations. Full details of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit (content warning: rape, suicide, abuse, harassment) will be updated as new information becomes available.

Source: ESPN, The Jacob Wolf Report (1,2)

  • Overwatch 2 Kimiko Poster Promotion

    Surveillance 2


    Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series


    Blizzard Entertainment

    Blizzard Entertainment

    First person shooter

    Online multiplayer, online co-op


    Overwatch 2 is the sequel to Blizzard’s team-based PVP shooter released in 2016. Overwatch 2 will completely supplant the original entry, ending the previous title in favor of 2. This sequel reduces the team size to five instead of six. Players will choose from one of thirty playable heroes and choose from one of three classes: damage, support and tanks. PVP remains the main focus; However, Overwatch 2 now places a greater emphasis on cooperative play with the addition of PvE modes – four-player cooperative excursions where players will take on different tasks against AI opponents. Overwatch 2 is a free-to-play game and will offer a battle pass option like others of its genre instead of the previous loot box system, allowing players to earn cosmetics and more each season.

    How long to beat:
    80-100 hours


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