Overwatch League 2023 – Revitalized or Retired?
It’s 2018 and the inaugural season of the Overwatch League kicks off in a young, yet booming esports industry – the teams, players and scene seems larger than life. Meanwhile, in present day, it seems that the Overwatch League 2023 may have been the last and is to be ‘revitalized’- read on to learn more about the recent news!
Overwatch League ‘Revitalized’ – Declining for Years
Let’s not forget that during the first three seasons, the Overwatch League celebrated quite a bit of success in many aspects together with Overwatch betting.
Trialing the traditional franchised format in esports, the first few seasons offered great viewership, a bustling community and fantastic competition.
So much so, that the early years saw the Overwatch League expanding the number of franchises as esports organizations wished to become a part of the success.
Many years later, there are a number of reasons why the Overwatch League declined together with Overwatch players count, here’s a few of them:
- A stale title – very few updates, stagnant and broken metas, a lack of variety. The release of Overwatch 2 did nothing to fix this.
- Lack of competition – the strict Overwatch League calendar made for not as much competition as the community wanted, which is what they tried to fix in this last season.
- Poor viewership – apart from being a difficult viewership experience, the numbers dwindled over time due to lack of interest.
Speaking of which, as a concrete display of the decline of the Overwatch League, here’s a look at the viewership numbers for the Overwatch League Playoffs over the years (peak concurrent viewers):
- OWL 2023 Playoffs – 157,689
- OWL 2022 Playoffs – 397,868 (inflated due to OWL 2)
- OWL 2021 Playoffs – 134,320
- OWL 2020 Playoffs – 183,036
- OWL 2019 Playoffs – 318,019
- OWL 2018 Playoffs – 349,592
As you can see, the decline is evident in Overwatch tournaments.
Revitalizing Overwatch League – As Expected
Earlier this year, in July, the writing was on the wall for the Overwatch League.
Specifically, it was revealed that Activision Blizzard would allow Overwatch League franchise owners to vote on an updated operating agreement.
Should teams choose to bail out, they receive a termination fee of $6 million. This was announced in the tail-end of a season which already saw teams withdrawing, rebranding and reducing funding.
While the Activision-Blizzard and Microsoft deal may have sparked some hope, the recent Tweet from the Overwatch League is no surprise:
With the completion of the 2023 Overwatch League season, we will be focusing on building our vision of a revitalized esports program. We’re eager to share more with you as details are finalized.
It seems that franchising hasn’t worked and doesn’t work in the esports industry – who would have thought?
A New Overwatch League – Our Predictions
As fans of esports, we’re hoping that Overwatch can bounce back.
Sure, Activision Blizzard does have a reputation of destroying esports scenes, there’s a strong community here. Here’s what we think a revitalized Overwatch League will need after scrapping what’s already failed:
- A more exciting and complete title – Overwatch 2 as a sequal has massively disappointed the community. Although it welcomed a surge of players in 2022, most have already left – there’s no point trying to redevelop an esport if the title is uncompetitive/unpopular.
- Copy Riot Games’ VALORANT system – arguably, Riot’s Partnership programme with VALORANT is the best way for a publisher to support organizations. Offering financial support while maintaining an open format is a win-win for everybody.
- Overhaul Contenders – for year, Overwatch has struggled with developing talent, which led to the West and East Leagues being dominated by foreign talent. A greater focus on talent development will improve the sustainability of the esport.
With VALORANT and CS2 enjoying newfound success, time is ticking for Overwatch.
Image Credits: Activision Blizzard