Toronto to host the highly anticipated Overwatch League 2023 Grand Finals

The Overwatch League - professional eSports league for the video game Overwatch

Grand Finals Dates and Venue

The 2023 Overwatch League (OWL) is all set to make headlines with its Grand Finals and Playoffs, scheduled to be held in Toronto, Canada. This exciting event will span across four days from September 28th to October 1st, making it a thrilling long weekend for the e-sports fans across the globe.

High Stakes in the Grand Finals

  • Prize pool: The stakes are high, with the champions of the 2023 OWL season pocketing a whopping $1 million as prize money, along with the coveted championship trophy. The second-place finishers will not be left empty-handed, as they’ll secure $400,000.
  • Ticket sales: For fans looking to catch the action live, the ticket sale will commence on July 21st, 2023, at 9 am PT.
SectionKey Points and Details
Grand Finals Dates and VenueDates: September 28 – October 1, 2023, Location: Toronto, Canada
High Stakes in the Grand FinalsPrize pool: 1st place – $1 million, 2nd place – $400,000; Ticket sale start date: July 21, 2023
League Format EvolutionIntroduced Spring and Summer stages, allowing non-franchised teams to compete
Hosting and Franchise PartnersEvent Host: Toronto Defiant, Owner: Overactive Media
Partnerships in Overwatch LeagueComprises early payment of league revenue, sponsorship agreement, and elimination of entry fees
Major Format OverhaulsNon-franchised teams can now compete alongside franchised teams in the Spring and Summer stages
Opportunities for Contenders TeamsContenders teams included in the Overwatch League format, pro-am tournament introduced with a prize pool of $100,000
Fallout of Overwatch BanChina’s ban resulted in significant implications for the East division
Filling the Void with Non-Franchised TeamsPossible inclusion of non-franchised teams to address shortfall due to Overwatch ban in China
Expanding Horizons of Overwatch LeagueOWL expanded from 12 teams in the first season to 20 teams in the later seasons
Exciting New Partnerships for OverActive MediaNew partnerships with AMD, LG’s UltraGear, Scuf Gaming, and Nielsen Sports

Overwatch League 2023: New Format, New Opportunities

League Format Evolution

OWL has taken a groundbreaking approach for its 2023 season, introducing a new format that comprises of Spring and Summer stages. This new format has been lauded for providing equal opportunities for non-franchised teams to compete against their franchised counterparts, which is a first in the history of OWL.

Hosting and Franchise Partners

The honor of hosting the event has been bestowed upon Toronto Defiant, an OWL franchisee that joined the league in 2019. The Toronto Defiant is under the ownership of Overactive Media, a prominent player in the esports arena with a global presence.

Key points on Toronto Defiant and Overactive Media:

  • Overactive Media also owns the Mad Lions, a European esports organization.
  • The company’s operations span across Toronto, Madrid, and Berlin, and is publicly traded on the Canadian TSXV exchange.
  • Last month, Toronto Defiant inked an agreement with OWL which led to the elimination of outstanding fees it paid to enter the league, valuing the deal at approximately CAD$ 10.8m.

Partnerships in Overwatch League

The OWL’s partnership with OverActive Media is a composition of three separate minor deals:

  • OverActive Media receiving an early payment of league revenue share
  • A sponsorship agreement with Toronto Ultra
  • The elimination of entry fees

These developments have happened at a time when OWL has been experiencing some turbulence, with allegations that some OWL teams had initiated legal proceedings against the tournament operator due to unfulfilled promises on viewership and sponsor revenue.

Format Changes and Open Opportunities in East Division

Major Format Overhauls

The OWL’s 2023 season, set to start from March 23rd, has witnessed significant format changes. These changes have resulted in non-franchised teams getting the chance to compete alongside franchised teams in the Spring and Summer stages.

Opportunities for Contenders Teams

The inclusion of Contenders teams, the second-tier professional Overwatch teams, into the Overwatch League format has been a notable change in the West region. This change manifests as a pro-am tournament where Contenders teams battle to compete alongside West Overwatch League teams in a $100,000 tournament.

In contrast, the East region is transitioning to an open, semi-franchised ecosystem, allowing Contenders teams to qualify for and participate in official Overwatch League play alongside franchise teams. This decision likely comes as a result of the drastic reduction in the number of franchises set to play in the East region.

Impact of Overwatch’s Ban in China on East Division

China’s effective ban on Overwatch has resulted in significant implications for the East division, which only houses two other franchises outside of the country: Seoul Infernal and Seoul Dynasty. The future of China’s four franchises remains uncertain.

Filling the Void with Non-Franchised Teams

To address the shortfall due to the uncertain state of China’s franchises, Activision Blizzard may have opened the door for non-franchised teams to join in. However, no official comment has been made regarding the fate of the Chinese franchises.

Expanding Horizons of Overwatch League

The inaugural season of OWL debuted with 12 teams hailing from various parts of the world. Despite a tumultuous first season, OWL managed to sell-out the Barclays Center for the season finals and significantly altered the perception of esports among external viewers. By the second season, the league expanded to 18 teams, and eventually, to 20.

Exciting New Partnerships for OverActive Media

OverActive Media, the parent company of Toronto Defiant and other teams, has recently announced four new partnerships:

  • An agreement with chip manufacturer AMD
  • A partnership with LG’s gaming division UltraGear
  • A renewed partnership with gaming controller brand Scuf Gaming
  • An extended partnership with analytics company Nielsen Sports

These partnerships primarily focus on OverActive’s franchises, Toronto Defiant, and Toronto Ultra, while only Nielsen will be working with MAD Lions.

In conclusion, the upcoming Overwatch League 2023 Grand Finals in Toronto promises to be a thrilling and momentous event, setting new milestones in the esports landscape. With the addition of new teams and format changes, it will be exciting to see how the competition unfolds.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

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