In a significant shift in the landscape of competitive gaming, Blizzard Entertainment has recently unveiled its latest endeavor in the world of esports: the Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS). This announcement marks a pivotal moment for the Overwatch esports community, following the conclusion of the Overwatch League’s final season in 2023.
Blizzard’s decision to sunset the Overwatch League was met with curiosity and anticipation. The company, at the end of the 2023 season, hinted at a reimagined vision for Overwatch esports, sparking discussions and speculations within the gaming community. The recent announcement has now brought clarity and excitement to fans and players alike.
The Overwatch Champions Series represents a fresh and ambitious approach to the esports scene for Overwatch 2. Blizzard has joined forces with ESL Faceit Group (EFG), an esports organization under the ownership of Saudi Arabia’s Savvy Games Group. This collaboration is set to inaugurate a new era for Overwatch 2 esports, emphasizing an open and inclusive competitive environment.
Strategic Alliance with Controversial Backing
The partnership with EFG, however, does not come without its controversies. The Savvy Games Group, a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been a subject of international scrutiny.
Prince Mohammed’s involvement in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s human rights record have been points of criticism against this collaboration.
Despite these concerns, Blizzard remains optimistic. Jared Neuss, the executive producer of Overwatch 2, expressed excitement about the potential of this new phase in the franchise’s competitive scene. Craig Levine, co-CEO of EFG, also emphasized the importance of this partnership in honoring the legacy and passion of Overwatch esports.
A Future Shaped by Inclusivity and Openness
Details about the regional open qualifiers and the structure of OWCS have been made available on the Overwatch 2 website. This new chapter promises to broaden the horizons for players and fans, offering a more accessible and diverse competitive platform.
In the wider context of gaming, the Saudi government’s involvement in the video game market continues to grow, despite some setbacks, as seen in their failed talks with the Swedish conglomerate Embracer last year.
As Blizzard forges ahead with OWCS and other projects like the third season of Diablo 4’s post-launch content, the gaming world watches with keen interest. This new partnership may set the tone for future collaborations and investments in the dynamic and ever-evolving realm of esports.