Overwatch League is in uncertain times at the moment

The Overwatch League: Retirement, stress and jumping ship

OWL 2018

Can the past be like the present again with the Overwatch League? (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

It's no surprise that some games are just doing it better than Overwatch at the moment. With major esports events across all spectrums canceled due to coronavirus pandemic, the Overwatch League has seemingly been hit the hardest of all major esports.

Esports this year has moved fully online, for the most part, in an attempt to keep the passion ignited in fans and players globally. The Overwatch League, however, has struggled to keep its audience interested, with professional players jumping ship to now up-coming popular FPS, Valorant.


Overwatch Hero pool week 9

Hero Pools being a large stress factor for players and coaches. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

The Overwatch League was in full swing for a fantastic homestand series both in North America, Europe, and Asia. However, what became apparent rather quickly is that these leagues would not continue due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen multiple major esports events canceled simultaneously.

One could argue that out of all the major esports events, Overwatch maker Blizzard was by far the slowest to react to the changes and adapt to formats that other major esports games already set in motion. A huge factor that players and coaches were trying to get to grips with in addition to coronavirus pandemic was the introduction of Hero Pools which aimed at banning a set number of Heroes each week to keep the meta fresh and ever-changing.

“I understand what Blizzard was going for. I understand the perspective of fans. But, to talk about my perspective, it’s hellish" - Head coach for Flordia Mayhem Kim Kuki Dae-Kuk

We've covered this extensively with the overwhelming response from players, coaches, and fans saying Hero Pools should have been managed better.

The coronavirus meant a new schedule every week, it seemed, and these schedules meant teams had to rematch against each other. As a result, only so many games were played and the Overwatch League was losing steam dramatically.


Overwatch player Sinatraa

Former pro player now VALORANT player, Sinatraa. (Image credit: San Francisco Shock via Twitter)

With the constant changes, unforeseen event cancelations and stress for players and coaches, it's no wonder we've seen talent either retire from competitive Overwatch or leave for an entirely different game altogether. Most notably, Jay "sinatraa" Won, the DPS for San Francisco Shock formally announced his retirement, citing difficulties all around in his TwitLonger.

straight up just lost passion for the game. idk what the real killer was for me but maybe it was 2-2-2 lock maybe it was bans im not sure... i just know it was hard for me to log on to play and i didnt have fun in scrims/ranked at all anymore."

Following this was a simple reply to his own Tweet, announcing his move to Valorant, a game that isn't even out yet, let alone having an esports structure in place.

When an incredibly talented DPS player and MVP winner moves to a game that isn't even out yet, you start to get the impression that the Overwatch League might be having a few problems, to say the least. His departure isn't the only one, with many notable broadcast and casting talent leaving the production, citing multiple conflicts of interest and direction issues.

Jumping ship

Valorant Agents Smaller

Upcoming FPS from Riot Games, VALORANT. (Image credit: Riot Games)

Everything must come to an end and it seems that COVID-19 was the final nail in the coffin for the Overwatch League. Countless format restructures, rematches, stressed players and coaches, players leaving for unreleased games, and Hero Pools that neither the fanbase or pro players wanted all come together to wanting to jump ship and start anew somewhere else.

Overwatch has been out for quite some time now, and with no known release date for Overwatch 2 yet, players and fans are concerned about the future of Overwatch esports. When you have a game like Valorant taking your star players, the Overwatch League and Blizzard need to have a hard look at themselves going forward on how they want to market themselves on the esports scene in the long term.

What do you think of the state of the Overwatch League? Do you think it will be around for years to come? We're interested to know your thoughts. For everything else Overwatch, keep it here, with EarlyGame.

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