This year has been a tumultuous one for the Overwatch League. It wasn’t supposed to be this way: the 2020 season was slated to be a breakout year, a chance to finally realize the ambition of having a truly global league with teams traveling all over the world to compete against one another.
That dream was halted due to the ongoing pandemic and the inability for teams and players to travel. To make matters worse, viewership dropped after a shift from Twitch to YouTube, and the rapid rise of Riot’s team-shooter Valorant kicked off an exodus of big-name players, led by 2019 OWL MVP Jay “Sinatraa” Won. At one point, the second-best team in the league dropped its entire roster.
But things have steadily been turning around. After shifting to online play, the league eventually adopted a tournament structure, which added some much-needed excitement to the regular season and, later, the playoffs. It seems to have worked: the league says viewership peaked in the playoffs with an average minute audience of 375,000 viewers. Now, OWL is looking to build off of that momentum with its annual championship, the Grand Finals, which kicks off on October 8th.