Overwatch League fan cheering from the crowd while teams play on stage.
Photo by Robert Paul via Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard unveils new global circuit to replace defunct Overwatch League

After a teary goodbye, competitive Overwatch will return.

Following an emotional end to the last season of the Overwatch League, Blizzard unveiled its plans today for a new era of competitive Overwatch moving forward.

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The Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS) is a partnership between Blizzard and ESL FACEIT Group, a leading esports and gaming company. The OWCS will feature three regions: North America, EMEA, and Asia, with two international LAN tournaments in 2024 for the world’s best to once again compete on stage.

In comparison to the Overwatch League, the previous tier one Overwatch 2 circuit which utilized franchised teams with formal sponsorships, player contracts, and team branding, OWCS will employ a new model. The OWCS model focuses on “providing more opportunities for players to become pros, and the introduction of new community platforms to facilitate Overwatch esports operations,” according to Blizzard.

This means the OWCS will likely employ a less “exclusive” outlook, making it easier for aspiring professional players to climb the ladder to success. The new circuit aims at supporting teams and players across all levels of the competitive Overwatch community. A community-focused initiative is a key part of ESL FACEIT’s mission, emphasizing “vibrant, connecting experiences” across major esports titles, according to the company’s website.

The OWCS leagues in North America and EMEA will be operated by EFG, while WDG, a Korean tournament organizer that helped run Overwatch Contenders Korea, is preparing to run the league in Asia. Blizzard has stated another goal of the OWCS structure is to promote consistent, “always-on” events, providing structure for teams to continue to grow and develop.

After open qualifiers and subsequent OWCS tournaments in each regional league, the best teams from each will compete this summer in Dallas at the first major international tournament. A finals tournament will then conclude the competitive season in Sweden in November, with this latter event marking the return of tier-one Overwatch gameplay in Europe after a prolonged absence. Each LAN tournament will feature eight teams.

The anticipated differences between OWL and the OWCS could lead to a competitive environment that is more grounded in grassroots communities versus large brand-name sponsors and all-star players headlining the competition. We’ll have to see which former OWL stars might pick the mouse and keyboard back up to revive their careers in the OWCS.

“OWCS introduces a new era of Overwatch esports while honoring the traditions and passion built by Overwatch esports,” said Craig Levine, co-CEO of ESL FACEIT Group, in a press release.

Above all, it is promising to know Blizzard hasn’t given up on competitive Overwatch just yet. Details regarding regional open qualifiers can be found on the OW2 website.


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Author
Nadine Manske
Nadine is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She covers VALORANT and Overwatch with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region and marginalized genders in esports. Before joining Dot Esports as a freelance writer, she interned at Gen.G Esports and the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her favorite Pokémon is Quagsire.