The esports landscape is undergoing a significant transformation with the introduction of the new Overwatch Champions Series. Following the decline of Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League last year, Overwatch 2 starts a new chapter with a clear stance: a ban on sponsorships related to cryptocurrencies and artificial intelligence.
Official Regulations: Drawing a Firm Line in Sponsorship Arena
The tournament operator ESL FACEIT Group, in charge of the Overwatch Champions Series, has set strict rules for sponsorships. According to the regulations revealed on Wednesday, teams cannot associate with brands linked to:
- Cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency exchanges
- NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens)
- Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
This decision, initially spotted by James Fudge from The Esports Advocate, represents a defined stance regarding funding and partnerships in esports.
A Turn in the Interaction Between Esports and Crypto
Historically, there has been significant interaction between the esports and cryptocurrency industries. Notable examples include:
- FTX and Team SoloMid: A 10-year agreement for $210 million.
- FTX and Riot Games: A seven-year sponsorship for the LCS, valued at nearly $100 million.
However, the collapse of FTX at the end of 2022 marked a decline in such agreements, possibly due to the downturn in the cryptocurrency market and a widespread reluctance in the esports industry.
Overwatch Champions Series: A New Approach
The Overwatch Champions Series seeks to differentiate itself by distancing from the influences of cryptocurrencies and AI. This strategy suggests an attempt by the league to maintain autonomy and financial stability away from the volatile cryptocurrency markets.
A Radical Shift in the Esports World
The Overwatch Champions Series sets a precedent in the relationship between esports and the financial world. This decision could have significant implications in the dynamics of sponsorship and the future development of the esports sector. It will be interesting to observe how the esports community responds and adapts to these changes.