Several sources close to NetEase (who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak on the matter) have told The Esports Advocate that the Overwatch League will not be broadcast in China in 2023 due to the termination of the partnership between NetEase and Activision Blizzard, as the company no longer has game approval for Overwatch.
As TEA previously reported, the Chinese Overwatch League (OWL) teams, Guangzhou Charge, Chengdu Hunters, Hangzhou Spark, and Shanghai Dragons are still waiting for feedback and instructions from Activision Blizzard, and might move their operations to South Korea.
While competitions related to unapproved games are not allowed to be broadcast on Chinese live-streaming platforms “officially,” some events like the PUBG Global Championship (PGC) could still be broadcast in China as the government has turned a blind eye to allow it in the past. But because Activision Blizzard’s exit was high profile, the Chinese government will strictly enforce the policy for any related competitions.
On a related note, the China Consumer Association has criticized Activision Blizzard in a statement dated Jan. 31, noting that “the close of China game servers will violate gaming consumer’s virtual property right[s],” as all in-game property in Hearthstone, Overwatch, and StarCraft II, and other Blizzard titles, will be/are gone after the China server shut down.
As of this writing, Activision Blizzard titles can still stream on Chinese live streaming platforms if individuals are playing the games.
March 13 is the deadline for participating teams to have a minimum of five players signed to season-long contracts for the season. The official start date for 2023 will happen sometime after that—Activision Blizzard has not announced a definitive date, as of this writing.