Blizzard and ESL Partnered for New Overwatch 2 Esports Circuit, Check Schedule


Blizzard Entertainment has partnered with ESL FACEIT Group (EFG) to create the Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS) – a new global esports circuit aimed at ushering in the next evolution of Overwatch competition.

Overwatch 2 recently entered its first season of esports competition with the launch of the Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS).

This came after the conclusion of the Overwatch League.

After years of anticipation, many fans are wondering – is Blizzard’s hero shooter finally ready to become a major esports?

What is the OWCS?

The OWCS is Blizzard and ESL FACEIT’s new global circuit for Overwatch 2 competition.

It features leagues and events across North America, Europe/MENA, and Asia, all feeding into two major international LAN tournaments in 2024.

  • The first will be the OWCS Dallas Major, featuring the top 8 teams facing off at the famous DreamHack Dallas festival – May 31 – June 2.
  • Later in the year, the OWCS World Finals will bring together regional champions to compete for the first-ever OWCS global title. The finals will be held at DreamHack Stockholm, marking the return of a premier Overwatch LAN event in Europe after a 5+ year absence – November 22-24.

With a revamped 5v5 format and new heroes like Sojourn shaking up the meta, the OWCS provides a fresh start for Overwatch esports.


Open and Global Competition

One of the most exciting aspects of the OWCS is that it provides an open and global competition structure.

The circuit will feature regular seasons and tournaments across three regions – North America, Europe/Middle East/North Africa (EMEA), and Asia.

This represents a major shift from the previous Overwatch League (OWL) system, which was based on city-based franchising.

By opening up the competition, Overwatch 2 esports creates more opportunities for all players to compete at the highest levels.

Aspiring pros will be able to work their way up through open qualifiers and prove themselves against the best.

For esports fans, this means more exciting matchups and unpredictable outcomes.

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Why Now for Overwatch 2 Esports?

After delays and a pro-scene decline in later Overwatch 1 years, why attempt a big esports push now?

Some signs indicate the timing could be right:

  • Overwatch 2 quickly attracted millions of new and returning players with its free-to-play launch and new content after the long OW1 content drought. The wider player base provides a deeper talent pool for rising stars.
  • The switch to 5v5 changes the game flow and roles, requiring new strategies and team compositions. Veterans can’t rest on old skills, which levels the playing field.
  • Major organizations like Cloud9, T1, and Team Liquid have invested in OW2 rosters, indicating confidence in the game’s future. More big-name pro backing draws more fans.
  • The OWCS introduces more open qualifiers and a consistent schedule compared to past Overwatch esports circuits. This gives more players a path to the elite level.

Challenges Facing Overwatch 2 Esports

However, it’s not all smooth sailing for Overwatch on its journey to becoming a top esports.

Some challenges that could slow momentum:

  • Very small prize pools compared to esports giants like League of Legends or CS:GO. Less money means less incentive for players to go all-in on competing.
  • No in-game spectating tools for viewers, a feature that helped rival hero shooter VALORANT gain esports traction. Production value suffers without built-in capabilities.
  • Overwatch can be chaotic for spectators, especially new ones. Busy visuals and rapid pace make following team fights difficult compared to more structured games.

The Road Ahead

EFG’s FACEIT platform will provide the infrastructure for amateur and pro Overwatch 2 players alike.

FACEIT offers features like finding teammates and competing in community events.

It also enables third parties to organize their own Overwatch 2 tournaments.

This provides a clear path for up-and-coming players to gain experience and make a name for themselves.

While nothing is guaranteed, the OWCS lays the foundations for Overwatch 2 to grow into premiere esports over the next few years.

If Blizzard continues improving the viewing experience and raises the stakes for competition, expect Overwatch to become a mainstay on the esports circuit.

But the game faces an uphill battle for mindshare against deeply entrenched competitors.

To truly thrive long-term, Overwatch needs to captivate both players and spectators with evolving gameplay and presentation.

The game has potential – now it’s time to execute.

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