Blizzard Entertainment and ESL FACEIT Group (EFG) officially announced that they will work together to create a brand new esports offering that revolves around Overwatch 2 called the Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS).
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Tuesday’s announcement confirms reporting in September that Activision Blizzard was in talks with third-party tournament organizers to take over the Overwatch League or build a new successor esports program to replace it.
Billed as the “successor to the Overwatch League,” the new esports competition series will officially begin in February and aims to offer both path-to-pro and professional competitions through ESL, DreamHack, and tournament platform FACEIT.
Under the terms of the deal, EFG will handle competitions in North America and the EMEA region (Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa). South Korean esports tournament organizer WDG (We Design Game culture) will handle competitions in Asia.
EFG said in a release that OWCS will offer an esports circuit that is “open, always-on, and global.” It will do this through competitions on the FACEIT platform as well as through in-person events through its wholly-owned festival and gaming company DreamHack.
Each region will have its own set of open qualifiers and tournaments, culminating with two live in-person international events. For 2024, OWCS will feature two in-person events at DreamHack: Eight of the world’s top teams will compete at the DreamHack Dallas Major from May 31 – June 2. From Nov. 22-24, eight of the best teams in the world will compete in the World Finals during DreamHack Stockholm to crown the first-ever OWCS champion.
In addition, FACEIT will serve as an integral part of the competition during online competitions and qualifiers. In addition, the platform will support tournament organizers and community leaders who want to produce “third-party competitions and community experiences.”
More details on tournament formats, ticket sales for in-person events, prize pools, and more will be announced at a later date.
At the end of 2023, team owners voted to leave the franchised Overwatch League, leading Activision Blizzard (which is now owned by Microsoft) to shut it down and rethink its esports program for Overwatch 2.
EFG is a wholly owned subsidiary of Savvy Games Group, which is in turn owned by the Saudi Arabian government’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund. EFG owns and operates a number of tournament organizers and broadcast production companies including DreamHack, ESL, FACEIT, Esports Engine, and Vindex.