Overwatch League and Call of Duty League teams will independently sell merchandise in 2021

Individual teams will operate storefronts and can now "customize merchandise" for their audiences.

Photo by Jordan Reed via EsportsNation

During the 2021 competitive season, Overwatch League and Call of Duty League teams will be responsible for selling their own merchandise to fans, Blizzard announced today. 

Blog posts on each league’s website updated fans on the merchandising process for the upcoming year. Individual teams will be “free to sell merchandise to fans through their own online team stores,” according to the posts. Each team will independently operate an online storefront to sell merchandise. 

Both leagues previously operated under a “multi-year deal” with sports retailer Fanatics, which began in late 2018 with an Overwatch League partnership. The Call of Duty League launched in 2020 under this Fanatics deal. All merchandise was sold and distributed under the Fanatics banner. 

With this new approach, teams can focus on “customizing merchandise for their community.” While some Call of Duty and Overwatch League teams previously sold independently designed merchandise or partnered with outside retailers, most teams were stuck with standardized Fanatics products. 

Earlier this week, teams like the Minnesota RØKKR and San Francisco Shock posted links to independent storefronts, leading fans to speculate that the deal with Fanatics had fallen through. 

The blog updates posted by Blizzard make no mention of Fanatics or the status of the retailer in the context of league merchandise. Each league will be working on a relaunch of central stores and will be “sharing a new experience” with fans in 2022, according to the updates.

On Feb. 11, the second season of the Call of Duty League kicks off. The Overwatch League will begin its fourth season sometime in April.