Significant Reduction in Esports Staff
Activision Blizzard, according to a report by Dot Esports, has recently undergone a substantial reduction in its workforce, significantly impacting its esports division. The layoffs, which affected various members of the Overwatch League (OWL) broadcast and talent teams, have reduced the esports division to just 12 full-time employees. Among those laid off were prominent figures Matt “Mr. X” Morello and Salome “Soe” Gschwind-Repp, both of whom have been integral to the OWL broadcasts since 2018. This wave of layoffs has come just after the announcement of the new Overwatch Champion Series, casting a shadow over what was initially a hopeful development for Overwatch esports.
Impact on Overwatch and Call of Duty League Personnel
The layoffs have not only affected the Overwatch League but also the Call of Duty League (CDL), with many employees being informed of their termination shortly after the Boston Major event. This drastic downsizing, reportedly leading to the dismissal of around 60 individuals from Blizzard’s esports divisions, has raised concerns about the future of both Overwatch and Call of Duty esports events. The decision to lay off these employees is part of broader layoffs across gaming divisions by Microsoft, which recently acquired Activision Blizzard.
Uncertain Future for Activision Blizzard's Esports Endeavors
The layoffs have left the future of Activision Blizzard's esports initiatives in doubt, particularly for the Call of Duty League. It has been reported that the league's entire team of full-time observers, crucial for broadcasting, has been dismissed. This move hints at a potential shift in the company's approach to esports, possibly towards a model similar to the Overwatch Champion Series run by FACEIT. The current situation has created a sense of uncertainty and disappointment among the staff and fans alike, as the esports community grapples with the implications of these layoffs on the future of competitive gaming under Activision Blizzard's management. The 2024 CDL season, however, is set to continue with upcoming matches, leaving many to wonder about the long-term viability and structure of these leagues.