Sources: Overwatch League enters talks with tournament organisers for 2024 amid uncertain future

Sources: Overwatch League enters talks with tournament organisers for 2024 amid uncertain future
Image via Blizzard Entertainment | Viola Schuldner for ESL

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch


6th Sep 2023 19:00

According to sources with knowledge of the matter, the Overwatch League has contacted third-party tournament organisers around the esports industry to plan for the uncertain future of Overwatch esports after the conclusion of its sixth season.

GGRecon’s sources disclosed that ESL FACEIT Group has been in talks with the League to organise its circuit in both North America and Europe. Whether EFG would provide white-label production as it does for other esports such as Rocket League or if it would head a professional circuit under its own banner is currently unknown.

For Asia, a continued partnership with the current Overwatch League production partner WDG Esports is being pursued.

Pending franchise vote requires multiple solutions

Overwatch League Grand Finals
Click to enlarge

In a quarterly earnings report from July 19, 2023, Activision Blizzard disclosed an amendment of “certain terms of our collaborative arrangements,” requiring a vote on an updated operating agreement after the conclusion of the sixth season of the Overwatch League.

If Overwatch League teams were to vote against the continuation of the League under the updated operating agreement, a one-time termination fee of up to $6 million would be paid to the remaining 19 franchises.

As the outcome of the vote has yet to be determined, sources suggest that multiple solutions are being discussed with the respective tournament organisers in order to plan for both potential outcomes.

One source shared with GGRecon that a supermajority of two-thirds of the remaining franchises would be required for the continuation of the Overwatch League under the new operating agreement. 

The involvement and extent of which for both EFG and WDG are therefore claimed to be contextual to the outcome of the vote.

WDG Esports has been involved in Overwatch esports starting in 2019, running production for Overwatch Contenders and the Korean side of the Overwatch League broadcast. In 2022, it took over broadcast production duties for the Overwatch League’s APAC region, also hosting the Midseason Madness during the sixth season.

IEM Cologne 2023 stage, large crowd
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An Overwatch League’s spokesperson responded to a request for comment by GGRecon on the contents of this report with the following: “The Overwatch League is fully focused on celebrating all the hard work of Season 6 at Grand Finals in front of a passionate, sold out Toronto crowd on October 1st. This is the most exciting time of the season and players and teams have earned the spotlight as we witness who will be crowned the 2023 global Overwatch League champion.

In January 2022, the Saudi Arabian-backed Savvy Gaming Group purchased both ESL Gaming and FACEIT for a reported $1.5 billion USD, merging the two esports production companies under the ESL FACEIT Group banner.

EFG is well known for both its white-label production for esports such as Rocket League as well as its own circuits such as the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) and ESL One.

In April of this year, EFG signed a two-year deal with Activision Blizzard to bring Call of Duty: Mobile to its mobile gaming circuit, the Snapdragon Pro Series.

GGRecon has reached out for comment to ESL FACEIT Group on the 5th and WDG Esports on the 6th of September. Neither has answered at the time of publication.

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