The Overwatch League, the Overwatch 2 esports league that (somewhat ill-advisedly) adopted an NFL-like franchise model, died last year. The brainchild of former Blizzard president Bobby Kotick, it failed to flourish thanks to expensive buy-ins, the covid pandemic kneecapping in-person events, and more—but after it died, Blizzard promised something would come in its wake. And indeed, something has risen from its ashes: the Overwatch Champions Series, or OWCS.
— Overwatch Esports (@OW_Esports) January 23, 2024
Announced January 23 via blog post, the Overwatch Champions Series is Blizzard’s “new premiere international competitive circuit” open to players across three regions: North America; Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa (EMEA); and Asia. The league has partnered with the ESL FACEIT Group (EFG), an esports platform that will allow pro and amateur players to find Overwatch 2 tournaments, help people organize third-party competitions outside of the official OWCS pipeline, streamline statistics, and make the entire esports experience easier for players.
The OWCS will even have its own major, in-person tournament ala the OWL Grand FInals, which once had DJ Khaled perform in-between matches. Thanks to a partnership with DreamHack (another ESL company known for putting on gaming conventions and esports tournaments), there will be two major OWCS events this year: a summer tourney in the middle of this inaugural season, and a major finale event in the fall. The OWCS Major will take place at DreamHack Dallas from May 31 to June 2, while the grand finale will finally bring a major Overwatch esports event to Europe—DreamHack Stockholm will host and crown the first-ever OWCS champs.
Though Overwatch 2 has struggled since it replaced the original hero shooter in late 2022, its esports league remained a beacon of hope and solidarity amongst the always passionate Overwatch community. It’s great to see that Blizzard has followed through on its promise to keep Overwatch esports alive through the OWCS. Now I just have to find a new team to root for.
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