Team Vitality CEO reveals why his org is not interested in Overwatch 2

Team Vitality CEO reveals why his org is not interested in Overwatch 2
Image via Team Vitality | Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch


19th Apr 2024 16:45

Team Vitality CEO Nicolas Maurer has explained his organisation's reasoning for not picking up a team for Overwatch 2.

This is despite the system opening up after the death of the Overwatch League and the transition to an open third-party tournament organiser model with leagues such as the Overwatch Championship Series and the FACEIT League.

Overwatch esports during OWL

Image via Blizzard Entertainment
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For six years, Overwatch esports had largely revolved around the franchise system of the Overwatch League, during which organisations had to acquire a slot in order to compete at the highest level of play.

With a price tag of $20 to 35 million, the buy-in came at a steep price, turning some endemic esports organisations off the endeavour.

"We do think Overwatch obviously has been plagued by the model they choose. And not the model specifically, let's say the entry price that we always felt was overpriced. Very disconnected to the reality of the business," Maurer said in an interview with GGRecon.

Team Vitality is one of the largest and most successful European esports organisations, known for their Major-winning Counter-Strike squad around French superstar Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut and their reigning World Championship Rocket League team. 

Moreover, the French organisation has been expanding into various other esports, fielding teams in both the European League of Legends franchise League LEC and the EMEA partnership league in the VALORANT Champions Tour.

They also just recently picked up a star-studded Starcraft II squad around GSL Code S winners Cho "Maru" Seong-ju and Kang "Solar" Min-soo. 

No interest in Overwatch for now

With the dissolution of the Overwatch League, the associated price tag to field a roster in the esport shrunk considerably, with no buy-in costs required for any of the major competitions such as OWCS and FACEIT League.

The esport is also one of the 19 titles to be played at the Esports World Cup, in which esports organisations contend against each other in various titles for the crown of the Club Champion, for their aggregated performance over various esports titles, fighting for a total prize pool of $20 million

Other esports organisations such as ENCE, Overactive Media (Toronto Defiant), Team Falcons and Crazy Raccoons have signed Overwatch teams and have been competing in OWCS since its launch in March this year. Other international esports organisations such as Fnatic had been vetting the scene for opportunities but have so far not picked up a roster.

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Despite the lowered barrier of entry and inclusion in the EWC, Maurer appears to be uninterested in the game, explaining: "Maybe Overwatch fans will kill me for saying that, but I always felt it's a very difficult enjoy outside of the niche fan base that understands all the intricacies."

While this is a criticism often levied against other titles as well, Maurer still sees a fundamental difference: "While that applies to other games too, they have a way broader player base, meaning that those players can tune in and create interesting viewership figures, League of Legends being the prime example of that."

According to esports viewership analytics tool esportscharts, the LEC showed an average viewership of 265,000 average viewers during its 80 hours of airtime, resulting in 21.3 million hours watched. The EMEA stage 1 viewership for the OWCS reached an average of 31000 viewers with airtime of only 38 hours and 1.2 million hours watched.

Even the French regional LoL League LFL is currently beating the OWCS in average viewership, sitting at 52,000 average viewers with over 130 hours of airtime. Maurer concluded, "So Overwatch, we never considered it was a huge opportunity in terms of pushing the brand to new audiences. We always felt it's a niche game. Don't get me wrong, but it’s probably not for us." 

The Overwatch Championship Series in the Western regions has kicked off its second stage and is currently determining the teams for the Main Event. In OWCS Asia, the Main Event will kick off on April 25th, fielding the best teams from the Korean, Japanese, and Pacific regions against one another for a slot at the first OWCS Major at Dreamhack Dallas. 

Sascha Heinisch
About the author
Sascha Heinisch
Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch is a Senior Esports Journalist at GGRecon. He's been creating content in esports for over 10 years, starting with Warcraft 3.
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