After months of speculation, Blizzard has officially announced that the Overwatch League is done. The company is now focusing on developing a new strategy for the competitive Overwatch game.
Six years after its spectacular debut, Blizzard’s flashy Overwatch League is reportedly officially dead, according to reports from GG Recon and IGN. This announcement coincides with the official disbandment of one of the franchised teams, the Toronto Defiant, which became the second OWL team to exit this year following the Chengdu Hunters in May.
Breaking: Overwatch League spokesperson confirms “transitioning from the Overwatch League and evolving competitive Overwatch in a new direction.”https://t.co/pPor99qqbj
— Yiska (@YiskaOut) November 8, 2023
The competitive Overwatch, however, doesn’t necessarily end with the conclusion of the Overwatch League. Commissioner of Overwatch League Sean Miller has stated in the past that Blizzard is “committed to a new competitive ecosystem in 2024, though he didn’t reveal any concrete information about it.
Overwatch League is officially dead, what’s next for Overwatch?
Though it had its share of ups and downs, the Overwatch League was never able to live up to Activision Blizzard’s high standards for the competition. With Overwatch’s huge launch, Blizzard hailed the Overwatch League as a daring new venture in the esports industry in 2017.
The Overwatch League was incredibly exciting because it used an NFL-style franchise structure, with teams tied to specific regions and a whopping $20 million price tag to own a franchise. Even with its devoted fan base and the success of the main game, the Overwatch League had significant financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic and hefty startup costs.
After accusations of rampant sexual misconduct and discrimination at Activision Blizzard, several key sponsors of the league withdrew their support in 2021, worsening the situation. To make matters worse, Chinese players and teams were prohibited from playing the game due to the loss of a publishing partner in China.
Over the last few years, OWL’s future has been an ongoing discussion among fans, but the final nail in the coffin was delivered in July when Blizzard sent all of the teams an “updated operating agreement.” Each club would get a $6 million termination fee if they were unable to reach an agreement on the new conditions and chose to leave. Following this, Toronto Defiant decided to quit the Overwatch League with more teams to follow their lead.
Activision Blizzard is reportedly in discussions to plan the future of the Overwatch esports ecosystem alongside WDG esports and the Saudi Arabian state-owned ESL FACEIT Group. The majority of other professional video games use an open-circuit structure, which the new Overwatch esports is reportedly planning to adopt. This would free up teams to compete in tournaments on their own timetable as opposed to committing to weekly games that would eventually lead to the seasonal playoffs.