While the Overwatch League is gearing up to launch its fifth season, this year’s competition is shaping up to be the shakiest and most unpredictable yet. Here’s the current state of the franchised league, which is receiving millions of dollars each year from its 20 partner teams.
The timeline: Before looking ahead at the 2022 season, it’s worth reminding yourself of the shortcomings of the league’s previous iterations.
- Season 1: The league couldn’t execute the home-and-away format it was constructed upon.
- Season 2: The majority of teams, players, and fans were unhappy with the ‘GOATS’ meta due to its safe, mundane nature.
- Season 3: The third season came in the middle of the pandemic, causing plenty of understandable logistical issues.
- Season 4: A beloved player was embroiled in political controversy, as well as parent company Activision Blizzard laying off esports-dedicated staff before being sued by the state of California for sexual harassment and discrimination. Logistical issues continued, too, for good measure.
The all-important fifth season: Things haven’t been great for the Overwatch League since its early days and it’s not clear that the best is still yet to come.
- The 2022 season is set to start in April on a beta — yes, a beta! — of Overwatch 2.
- Sister league Call of Duty League partnered with Esports Engine, the former MLG crew, to run the 2022 season. OWL fans hoped for the same.
- A Dexerto report claims that teams are unaware of any plans to outsource the production to a company that’s dedicated to running esports products, in response to a report from The Esports Observer claiming outsourcing is “likely” to happen.
The uncertainty: There are now two months left before Overwatch League’s fifth season is set to get underway but uncertainty is rife.
- The same Dexerto report also claimed that the franchise teams still don’t have access to the Overwatch 2 beta.
- The league has lost iconic, long-time casting duo of Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson and Brennon “Bren” Hook. Fans watch for the players and teams but broadcast talent have important roles as storytellers, influencers, and ambassadors of an esports scene.
- While the acquisition is not a done deal yet, Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard is likely to create plenty of changes at the company — some of which is certain to trickle down to esports efforts like the OWL and CDL in due course. This will be a huge source of unpredictability for the foreseeable future.