It’s been a gnarly handful of days for the professional Overwatch scene. Since last Tuesday, four organizations have dropped their Overwatch teams, citing a lack of certainty about Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch League and potentially prohibitive costs they’ll have to pay in order to join it.
“Anticipation of Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch League and an uptick in mainstream esports attention means that now more than ever, we have to be confident we’re making the best investments in each game,” they wrote. “The decision to part ways with long-term members of our organization is never one that we take lightly, but ongoing roster instability has resulted in inconsistent performances in an already narrow field of events.”
They added that their former team will be able to continue using team house facilities for two months, so as to “provide what sense of stability that we can.”
They’re not the first to release an Overwatch team in the past seven days. Team SoloMid, another esports heavy hitter, backed out on May 5. Former player Taylor “b1am” Forrest said they just put the finishing touches on their player roster, but claimed that the cost of entry into Overwatch League is too steep for TSM to go all-in right now.
Red Reserve also bid a resigned farewell to their team on May 5, saying that not all is well on the European front. “Due to Overwatch remaining a relatively small esports title in Europe compared to the North American and Asian esports scene, the decision came to put our focus in different titles such as CS: GO, Call of Duty, and Fifa,” they wrote. “Whether or not we will continue in the Overwatch scene is yet to be decided as the esports scene is ever growing, but for now, this ends our run for Overwatch.”
Denial Esports kicked off the trend last Tuesday, dropping their team with little in the way of an explanation.
This all comes in close proximity to a report alleging that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross have both purchased Overwatch League spots for, potentially, millions of dollars. If true, that would put a lot of esports organizations in a tight spot, if not an outright untenable one.
For the moment, Blizzard isn’t making any concrete announcements, but they did tell PVP Live that they “are in active discussions with teams and owners from endemic esports as well as traditional sports.” We’ll see where that all goes... eventually. Overwatch League is set to launch sometime later this year, but there’s no exact date yet.
Update 5/10/17 9:30 AM: Another team, Splyce, released their Overwatch team on Tuesday as well. That makes five in one week.