Following six years of ups and downs, Blizzard’s ambitious venture appears to have run its course. In a statement to IGN, Blizzard officially announced that it was “transitioning from the Overwatch League (OWL)”, marking the end of what was once touted as the future of esports.
“We are transitioning from the Overwatch League and evolving competitive Overwatch in a new direction,” an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said. “We are grateful to everyone who made OWL possible.”
This comes after Overactive Media, owners of the professional esports team Toronto Defiant, announced its exit from the OWL. According to Activision Blizzard, the dissolution of the current league required two-thirds of franchisees to vote to leave and take a previously announced payout of US$6 million. Overactive Media confirmed that “the vote was held and that the league Team Participation Agreements (TPAs) have been terminated.”
Good evening OWL comrades
This is the owner of the Toronto Defiant
Saying goodbye to the OWL with AI generated art
Please direct your attention to the bottom left corner pic.twitter.com/n1MNkMRx1F
— Ash Parrish (@adashtra) November 8, 2023
Riding high off the widespread attention and success of Overwatch’s 2016 launch, the OWL rode the wave of the game’s surge in popularity. Pioneering the concept of city-based teams, franchise ownership came with a hefty US$20 million price tag, with Blizzard backing the OWL as a fresh new entry in a growing esports scene.
It’s the latest of setbacks for the esports industry, which has seen owners in the red, plummeting revenues, and team buyouts despite strong viewership numbers.
Despite this, Activision Blizzard says that they “remain focused on building our vision of a revitalized esports program”, so one can only wait and hope that things only go up from here. Whatever happens from here, thanks for the memories, OWL.
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