Blizzard partners with ESL for an open Overwatch 2 esports circuit

Blizzard has revealed the next evolution of the top tier Overwatch 2 then esports Destruction of the Overwatch League. The publisher has teamed up with ESL FACEIT Group (EFG) to manage the new Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS) under a multi-year exclusive deal.

The OWCS is an open format circuit where teams from North America; Europe, Middle East, North Africa (EMEA); and Asia can compete without paying multi-million dollar franchise fees. EFG will manage the Overwatch Champions Series in North America and EMEA, while Korean esports tournament organizer WDG will oversee the Asian circuit.

Regional qualifiers and tournaments will be held later this year, with up to two individual events at DreamHack Dallas (May 31-June 2) and DreamHack Stockholm (November 22-24). Eight teams will compete in each event, with the teams that qualify for DreamHack Stockholm aiming to become the first OWCS champions. The tournament will also mark the first high-level Overwatch competition in Europe in over five years.

The auditions will begin in February. Further details about the tournaments, including formats, ticket sales and prize pools, will be announced at a later date.

“A thriving sports scene is essential to a competitive game Overwatch 2and we’re very excited to embark on this next era for the franchise with EFG,” Jared Neuss, the game’s executive producer, said in a statement.

Blizzard notes that any player interested in participating can use FACEIT’s community tools to find teammates and events to compete in, while an ongoing schedule of events “creates a clear path to professional play for aspiring OWCS stars.” In addition, Blizzard says that by making the most of EFG’s tools and capabilities, it will be able to create an open, inclusive and sustainable competitive scene. FACEIT will also support third party tournaments and community experiences.

The Overwatch LeagueBlizzard’s ambitious pro circuit, It ended in 2023 after six seasons. Next day 2023 Grand Final in October, Blizzard said it is “focused on building our vision of a revitalized esports program.” A few weeks later, the majority of teams voted to withdraw from the league, and as a result A payment of $6 million each From Activision Blizzard and putting the final nail in OWL’s coffin.

Former Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick great vision for franchising, city ​​based The Overwatch esports league has never been fully operational. factors such as COVID-19, audience struggleBlizzard games It closes in Chinathe sexual harassment and discrimination scandal at the publisher and many teams operating at a loss led to the death of OWL.

Along with the OWCS reveal, Blizzard also announced the end of the Overwatch Contenders and Open Division initiatives, effectively added as feeder systems for the OWL. “The Path to Pro system has been an initiative that has welcomed many of our players and fans to Overwatch Esports and nurtured the talent that created the Overwatch League,” said Sean Miller, Head of Overwatch Esports. wrote in a blog post. “With OWCS, we now have a more open ecosystem where every player can fight their way to OWCS Champion.”

As of now, Blizzard has no updates to announce regarding the Overwatch Collegiate system. Thankfully, the excellent Calling All Heroes program (designed to elevate members of marginalized gender identities within the Overwatch ecosystem) isn’t going anywhere.

EFG, whose parent is Savvy Games Group, which is funded by the Saudi Arabian government, is certainly well-placed to manage Overwatch esports as a more sustainable endeavor. The company runs pro schemes for many other games, including other Blizzard titles whom StarCraft II.

Hosting several esports events at large-scale festivals Like DreamHack (which has hosted Overwatch tournaments in the past) helps to minimize costs. OWCS may not expire sell out arenas Previously in its own right, like the Overwatch League, but this at least seems like a viable, open future for it Overwatch 2 esports.

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