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Blizzard announces new era of Overwatch esports with Saudi-funded partnership

Following the end of Overwatch League, Blizzard has unveiled new plans for its competitive Overwatch esports circuit.

The company sunsetted Overwatch League at the end of its 2023 season. “We will be focusing on building our vision of a revitalised esports program,” the Overwatch esports social media team said at the time. “We’re eager to share more with you as details are finalised.”

Those details have since been finalised, and this week Blizzard announced a partnership with ESL Faceit Group (EFG), an esports company owned by Saudi Arabia’s controversial Savvy Games Group. The two companies aim to welcome a “new era of Overwatch 2 esports” in an “open and inclusive competitive ecosystem”, as part of a multi-year agreement. It will all be known as the Overwatch Champions Series, or OWCS.

Mauga | New Hero Gameplay Trailer | Overwatch 2.

“A thriving esports scene is important to a game as competitive as Overwatch 2, and we’re very excited to be entering this next era for the franchise with EFG,” said Overwatch 2 executive producer Jared Neuss.

“OWCS introduces a new era of Overwatch esports while honouring the traditions and passion built by Overwatch esports,” added Craig Levine, co-CEO of EFG.

Details regarding regional open qualifiers can be found on the Overwatch 2 website.

The Savvy Gaming Group is a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund, an initiative chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The hugely-controversial figure has been blamed by the CIA for the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Meanwhile, his rule of Saudi Arabia has maintained the country’s notoriously poor human rights record, with homosexuality still criminalised and punishments ranging from floggings to the death penalty.

The Saudi government has steadily been making further investments in the video games market. Last year, it was reportedly in talks with Swedish conglomerate Embracer, before this deal ultimately fell through.

Elsewhere in Blizzard news, you can read more about what the Diablo 4 team has cooked up for its third season of post-launch content – known as Season of the Construct – here.


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