The Chengdu Hunters franchise is closing its doors and officially leaving the Overwatch League, according to a league statement provided to GGRecon today, months after the roster was disbanded and since fans have heard any official communication from the team. This is the first franchise to fully exit from the league.
“The Chengdu Hunters have exited the Overwatch League,” according to a statement from an OWL spokesperson sent to GGRecon. “The organization communicated to the League a shift in their overall strategic objectives, and we wish them well with their new direction.”
The franchise, owned and operated by gaming livestreaming platform HUYA, did not field a roster for the sixth and current season of the league and was not included in the schedule announcement back in April since it was “contemplating the future direction of their team” at the time.
The Chengdu Hunters’ Twitter account has not been active since late January when the team tweeted that “Overwatch 2 has been shut down in mainland China” in response to the failed company contract extension between Blizzard and internet tech business NetEase. The three other franchises based in China are still fielding rosters and competing in the current season.
The Chengdu Hunters team entered the Overwatch League for season two as an expansion team, just narrowly sneaking into the playoffs in its first year with a top-12 finish during the regular season. While 2020 was largely a forgettable season for Chengdu, they were a prominent contender across all the major tournament series during 2021 and finished top six in the playoffs that year, with Huang “leave” Xin earning the regular season MVP award. Leave, along with some other former Hunters players, now play for the Hangzhou Spark.