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Published: September 2, 2021

Written by: Stefan Velikov

  • The California DFEH lawsuit has led to further complications in the OWL ecosystem
  • Numerous franchise owners are discontent with Blizzard’s decision both concerning the league and the lawsuit
  • The company faces many hurdles, including the lawsuit, the pandemic and the delay of Overwatch 2

According to reports, the California lawsuit has complicated matters to the already discontent OWL franchise owners.

Turbulent Times for the OWL

For a few weeks now the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s lawsuit against Blizzard has been making headlines. The game company was accused of sexist work atmosphere and mistreatment of female workers. Inside sources told Dexerto an inside perspective on what’s happening.

According to the sources, the owners of OWL franchises have been more and more peevish at Blizzard’s questionable decisions. This is based on the company’s reported lack of clear vision about the game’s esports scene and the delay of Overwatch 2. Some sources imply that this disgruntlement came as a result of the lawsuit, but others are firm that it has been happening even before DFEH made the legal move and the latter just made things worse. The latter even mentions that some league owners had been looking to sell their OWL slots before the lawsuit was even conceptualized.

Regardless if the DFEH lawsuit is the main thing that sparked OWL franchise owners’ irritation or not, they confirmed that what Blizzard is accused of and the way the company handles the lawsuit definitely leaves a sour taste in many. The team owners pointed out that nobody wants to be associated with sexism and discrimination.

According to an inside source, the company is currently leading regular negotiations with league owners and is keeping them updated on developments. Despite the OWL is one of the best-sponsored esports leagues in the past few years, currently, many of the franchise proprietors are uneasy about all the sponsors Blizzard has been losing.

Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, State Farm, Kellogg’s, and many others have either flat out retracted their sponsorship, are currently reconsidering it, or simply don’t wish to be associated with Blizzard for a while. This will obviously have a huge financial impact on the league. Kellogg’s even released a statement where they mentioned that they cannot keep partnering with a company that hurts their image of equity, diversity, and inclusion supporters. Kellogg’s announcement did include the possibility of renewed relationships between the companies, should Blizzard take serious measures to fix its treatment of female workers.

The OWL League Will Likely Have it Tough At Least Until Overwatch 2

Throughout the years, the Overwatch League has suffered various blows that are now culminating in a huge wave of distrust. In 2020 Activision Blizzard’s deal with Twitch expired and the broadcasting moved to YouTube, where it lost a lot of decline in viewership.

Evidently, the pandemic also posed some problems to the esports league as it severely limited the opportunities to host live events and pushed Blizzard towards dismissing employees and going for a more online-focused model. OWL slot owners had to take loans in order to survive through the most difficult of times.

If OWL franchise owners didn’t have enough to worry about, rumors started circulating, claiming that the OWL will be taking a year of hiatus until the possible release of Overwatch 2. This turned out to be false news as Jon Spector, Overwatch League’s vice president himself, debunked this. The worrisome news still had many on edge for a while but some people think a hiatus will actually be a better solution to holding events in the chaotic pandemic environment.

Instead of a regular season, reports claim that the game’s esports scene will have numerous smaller OWL-branded offseason events and potentially a delayed 5th season just before Overwatch 2’s release. Speaking of Overwatch 2, sources revealed that the game is being worked on and is expected to release around the second quarter of 2022. Blizzard is well aware of the need to get it on the market as soon as possible in order to respark OWL’s fire.

Whatever Blizzard’s true intentions, a decision should be made before October as that’s when franchise owners sign player contracts. It is sure that those things will be talked about at the next ownership meeting on September 2.

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