We are, as the kids say, so friggin’ back.
In November, the Overwatch League announced its end after six seasons. At the time, Overwatch League associate PR manager John Nomis said, “We are transitioning from the Overwatch League and evolving competitive Overwatch in a new direction,” confirming that while the League itself was dead, Overwatch esports would return. Today, we know what shape competitive Overwatch will take in 2024 with the announcement of the Overwatch Champions Series or the OWCS.
“The OWCS is our new premiere international competitive circuit open to players across North America (NA), Europe, Middle East, and North Africa (EMEA), and Asia,” read the announcement post.
The Overwatch Champions Series will have an open format as opposed to the franchise structure of the OWL. Players in eligible regions will form their own teams and compete in open qualifiers, working their way up to regional tournaments and eventually to the two live events — a summer major tournament hosted by DreamHack Dallas and the finals in November hosted by DreamHack Stockholm.
The full details are here, including the structure of the tournaments for each region. Because the Asia region is so large, its tournaments are formatted a little differently and are further broken down into three sub-regions: South Korea, Japan, and Pacific.
Curiously, in the past, the pacific region included Australia and New Zealand. But these countries have been left out of the OWCS pacific region. In an email to The Verge, Overwatch communications lead Kevin Scarpati said, “We’re working with [FACEIT] to add consistent Overwatch tournaments to other regions where OWCS is not operating.” (Don’t worry, South America, while you strangely don’t have your own region, you’ll be able to compete as a part of the North American region.)
In the past, Activision Blizzard ran the Overwatch League in house. Now, to run the OWCS, it’s partnered with ESL FACEIT group, an esports tournament organizer based in London and owned by Savvy Games Group — the gaming-focused portion of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Last year, veteran esports journalist Jacob Wolf reported that Activision Blizzard was working with the Saudi-owned company to run Overwatch esports after the dissolution of the League.
We don’t yet know where fans will be able to watch the OWCS, with Blizzard saying that news on that will be shared at a later date. Hopefully, that news will be shared soon as open qualifiers in the Asia region begin in February, while the North American and the EMEA regions start competition in March.