Game developer Blizzard Entertainment has partnered with global esports tournament operator ESL FACEIT Group to run Overwatch 2’s main esports ecosystem.
The Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS) will have open tournament circuits in EMEA and North America, as well as LAN tournaments at DreamHack events. ESL FACEIT Group will also include Overwatch 2 on the FACEIT platform.
The turn of events comes after the Overwatch League, the game’s premier franchised esports league, was shut down late last year after teams decided to exit it due to reportedly low revenue and viewership alongside high costs of operation.
It was reported in 2023 that Activision Blizzard, the owner of the Overwatch League, was in talks with third-party tournament operators to keep the Overwatch 2 ecosystem alive, and today marks the confirmation of those talks.
The new competitive circuit will adopt a more traditional format that aims to be ‘open, always-on, and global’, according to the organisers. This is the opposite approach to the now-defunct Overwatch League, which adopted a slot-based franchise league model where team slots were sold for upward of $20m.
The OWCS will be open to players in the North America, EMEA and Asia regions. Asian operations will be organised by Korean tournament organiser WDG. Each region will have its own set of open qualifiers and tournaments.
For 2024 the Overwatch Champions Series will feature two large-scale tournaments, both of which will take place at ESL FACEIT Group’s DreamHack tournaments.
First up will be the DreamHack Dallas Major tournament in late May and June. The OWCS World Finals will take place at DreamHack Stockholm. Both LAN events will feature the top eight performing OWCS teams from around the world.
The new structure indicates a more international circuit than the Overwatch League, which was predominantly North America-focused under its franchised model.
To ensure that there are greater path-to-pro opportunities, Overwatch 2 esports will be integrated into the FACEIT platform. According to a release, FACEIT will launch a consistent schedule of events and content for aspiring OWCS players. Moreover, the platform plans to support tournament organisers that look to produce third-party competitions and experiences.
Craig Levine, Co-CEO of ESL FACEIT Group, commented: “OWCS introduces a new era of Overwatch esports while honoring the traditions and passion built by Overwatch esports. Together with Blizzard Entertainment, EFG is well-positioned to create a truly global experience on the FACEIT platform and at DreamHack festivals.”