Video game publisher Blizzard Entertainment has partnered with global esports tournament operator ESL Faceit Group to relaunch Overwatch 2’s main esports ecosystem.
The Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS) will have open tournaments in the EMEA and North America regions, open to players in the North America, EMEA and Asia regions, as well as LAN tournaments at ESL-owned DreamHack events.
Each region will have its own set of open qualifiers and tournaments, with Asian tournaments set to be organized by Korean tournament organizer WDG.
ESL Faceit will also include Overwatch 2 on its Faceit online competitive platform.
The announcement comes after the Overwatch League, the game’s former premier esports competition, was shut down in late 2023 after participating teams decided to leave the platform due to reportedly low revenue and viewership figures as well as high costs of operation.
The new ecosystem will run with a more traditional open format, in contrast to the defunct tournament’s slot-based franchise league system where team slots were sold for more than $20 million. It will also be less North America-focused than its predecessor.
The 2024 OWCS will feature two large-scale tournaments, both taking place at ESL Faceit’s DreamHack events – the DreamHack Dallas Major in late May and June, then the OWCS World Finals at DreamHack Stockholm.
Both events will feature the top eight performing OWCS teams globally.
Meanwhile, gaming influencer company Faze Clan and crypto casino Rollbit have announced a new multi-million dollar esports sponsorship deal.
The partnership makes Rollbit a global partner of Faze Clan's Counter-Strike team, currently the top ranked team in the CS2 Valve World Rankings.
Rollbit's sponsorship of Faze Clan will be focused exclusively outside of the US.
Erik Anderson, president of Faze Clan, said: "We believe this marks one of the largest sponsorship deals in the history of Counter-Strike and esports, as brands like Rollbit look for new ways to connect with large, highly engaged global audiences.
“Today's historic announcement not only demonstrates our shared commitment to competition and excellence, but also ensures a strong and enduring program for our fans. We are thrilled to embark on this partnership with Rollbit."
Sam Norman, head of partnerships at Rollbit, added: "Rollbit is excited to partner with FaZe Clan, the current number one Counter-Strike team in the world. We have long admired FaZe Clan and look forward to joining their global audience of over 500 million social followers.
“We're looking forward to supporting and cheering for the Counter-Strike team as they aim to uphold their top global ranking throughout this year's season. This collaboration marks another milestone for Rollbit as we continue to expand our sponsorship portfolio with other leading sports organisations."
Last year Italian soccer giants and current Serie A champions Napoli also signed a two-year partnership with Rollbit.
Around the same time, Faze Clan was acquired by Gaming analytics and esports brand company Gamesquare, which has Dallas Cowboys (NFL) owner Jerry Jones as one of its main investors.
According to a Bloomberg report, the all-stock Faze Clan-Gamesquare deal is worth around $17 million, a significant decline from the company’s $725-million valuation at the time of its special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger in July 2022 – a figure significantly less than the $1-billion figure that was suggested the year before.