The Overwatch League is preparing for the launch of 2023’s season. It’s one of our first since the game got an upgrade with Overwatch 2. It looks like the game is going to be down a team when it does launch though. Chengdu Hunters are effectively leaving the League. While their future is uncertain right now, it doesn’t look too bright for the team right now.
Chengdu Hunters Leaving Overwatch
Just ahead of the Spring launch for Overwatch we’ve got the Spring Stage schedule. One team was notably missing from the line-up. Chengdu Hunters weren’t scheduled to play at all. Organizers released a statement to explain more about the team’s absence.
Chengdu Hunters won’t be included in the Spring schedule, and Blizzard has said this is while the team “contemplates the future direction of the team.”. It’s possible that Chengdu could return to the League, but their absence likely means this is the end of the road for them in this form.
Overwatch’s franchise system complicates things a bit with teams leaving the League. It’s possible that Blizzard will find a new franchise to fill the gap pretty quickly, or Chengdu Hunters could leave the League with one fewer team for a while.
Why is Chengdu Dropping Out of OWL?
Chengdu Hunters leaving the OWL could be for a few reasons, but there’s one factor that looks pretty important. Blizzard’s deal with NetEase has now expired. This effectively makes Overwatch unplayable in mainland China, which naturally causes a few problems for teams based there.
Other teams from mainland China have stayed in the Overwatch League however. They seem to have found a way to play the game despite the NetEase deal expiring. The other teams are all scheduled with matches over the opening weeks. The Overwatch League is going to start on April 27th, without Chengdu Hunters this time. We’ll have to see how Blizzard deals with having one less team, or if a deal can be made to bring Chengdu back in another form.