Overwatch League stage.
Photo by Robert Paul via Blizzard Entertainment

All teams that have left the Overwatch League

The room is starting to clear out.

The end draws near for the Overwatch League as we know it. While Overwatch esports will seemingly stay alive in some regard, the franchised league is headed toward its close, with league management effectively confirming that the league is over.

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The OWL has struggled with financial viability since its inception due to its high buy-in price for franchises, a mass exodus of sponsorships due to the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard, fluctuating media rights deals, a dip in the Overwatch player count, and the COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors.

Here are the Overwatch League teams that have already left.

Every team that has left the OWL

Chengdu Hunters

The Chengdu Hunters franchise reportedly disbanded back in May 2023, months before Activision Blizzard revealed that a franchise owners’ vote at the end of the season would determine the future of the league.

The next month, the League confirmed that the Chengdu Hunters franchises had officially exited, citing a “shift in their overall strategic objectives.” The Hunters’ exit also took place after Overwatch 2 was shut down in China after Blizzard’s contract with NetEase expired. The franchise owned and operated by gaming livestreaming platform HUYA never fielded a roster for the 2023 season and was left out of the sixth season’s scheduling announcement.

Toronto Defiant

Toronto Defiant is the second franchise to leave the OWL this year, and the first to do so by not signing to continue competing and opting to take the $6 million termination fee. The announcement was made by Defiant’s ownership company OverActive Media via a statement from co-founder and interim CEO Adam Adamou:

“Our commitment to our teams and esports is stronger than ever, and we believe this move is a crucial step to ensuring their continued success. We are eager to share more about our vision for Toronto Defiant and our plans to return to Overwatch esports. We expect more information to come on this front soon.”

The Toronto Defiant and OverActive negotiated a deal with OWL back in June that eliminated the franchise’s “outstanding entry fees,” which totaled roughly $8 million. OverActive spearheaded a collective bargaining process at the beginning of 2023, hiring British law firm Sheridans to negotiate with the league on behalf of all the participating teams.

Houston Outlaws

The Houston Outlaws confirmed its exit from the Overwatch League on Nov. 10, while also announcing a pivot away from competitive esports to focus on “content and entertainment.” The organization has signed a collective of streamers and content creators and rebranded to just the name Outlaws.

In the final season of the Overwatch League, the Outlaws reached the Grand Final but were swept by the eventual and final OWL champion Florida Mayhem.


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Author
Scott Robertson
VALORANT lead staff writer, also covering CS:GO, FPS games, other titles, and the wider esports industry. Watching and writing esports since 2014. Previously wrote for Dexerto, Upcomer, Splyce, and somehow MySpace. Jack of all games, master of none.