It has now been a month since the Overwatch League effectively came to a tentative closure, following the confirmation that Blizzard would be shutting down the tournament for the time being. This news came amidst a desire to ‘redesign’ the Overwatch League and recoup some of the financial losses that the company has eaten as a result of the floundering esports ecosystem attached to Overwatch. It has been suggested that Blizzard will look to outsource the Overwatch League going forward, but to whom?
In a report published by Jacob Wolf, it was stressed that the Overwatch League – the ‘most expensive esports league ever produced’ – is on the cusp of a paradigm shift. It’s set to change forever, with Blizzard redesigning it from the ground up. Not just that, but the leading suggestion now is that Blizzard will actively outsource the management and operation of the Overwatch League, starting with the 2024 season, to a third-party organiser.
And it seems that the frontrunner for that responsibility is the Saudi-backed ESL FACEIT Group.
The Future of the League
For the last few months, teams competing in the Overwatch League have been toiling with the uncertainty of their future in the game. There was an offer from Blizzard to pay back a whopping $6 million to each organisation that bought into the Overwatch League when it was stood up, a paltry sum considering the original buy-in fees and the maintenance costs in the years that followed. However, it was the best course of action for those looking to shut down the poorly managed esports tournament, and that’s what could be about to happen.
There has been a lot of doubt and disruption spread throughout Blizzard’s esports ecosystem in recent weeks. Following the closure of the deal with Microsoft, Activision Blizzard now falls under the banner of the titanic tech firm. Toward the tail end of the summer, Blizzard suffered from layoffs, and of course, the Overwatch League’s future came into question. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens next, but some organisations are clinging to the notion that there will be an Overwatch League in the future – it’ll just be outsourced.
Of course, that’s not a concept that’s without its pitfalls. In the last few months, the Saudi Arabian-back Savvy Games Group has been on a growth mission, expanding across the globe and acquiring or partnering with countless firms. On a similar note, the Saudi Esports Federation has also been growing at an exponential rate, leading many to fear the future of esports, particularly in that region.
It must be stressed that there’s still a huge audience for Overwatch esports. At the moment, the Overwatch World Cup 2023 is playing out to a massive audience that has peaked at around 318,000 viewers. If the Overwatch League is redesigned and redeployed effectively, it could mean a resurgence for a game that has been treading water for some time now.