Blizzard Entertainment has reportedly decided to cut Russian coverage of the official Overwatch Season 3 streams without any further notice to the Russian commentary desk.
Overwatch League has gone through some major changes throughout the last few months, but none of those changes were as sudden and shocking as Blizzard's decision to cut the Russian on-air talent from providing commentary of the 2020 season of Overwatch League.
The information about this incident did not come from Blizzard themselves, but rather from a senior commentator Pavel "Rillion" Shabalin, who revealed the Russian stream for 2020 Overwatch league won't be happening on his official VK account. As stated by Rillion, Blizzard decided to ditch the Russian region in a bid to focus on main markets, with the reason behind it, of course, being money.
In his post, Rillion talked about options he proposed to Blizzard, however, the Overwatch developer and publisher did not like either.
"I can't disclose the details, but I found two great localization offers for Blizzard," said Rillion.
"One of the studios offered me a rent-free studio, slaries for directors, managersm make-up artists and sound for 50,000 to 100,000 per day, to do a whole year of content, with the condition of paying salaries to at least commentators. But Blizzard was not happy with this option."
"Now there are only those regions where the rights were sold to TV. Apparently, the reason is money - esports is business."
Blizzard, in the end, decided they will provide Overwatch streams for only for English, Chinese, Korean and French-speaking audience. Their decision was unveiled to Rillion who was supposedly under the impression he would work for Blizzard throughout 2020 Overwatch League season, and for that reason spent four months on break from other responsibilities to prepare him for the task ahead.
As stated by Rillion, all the Russian Overwatch commentators were notified of Blizzard's decision to cut the Russian stream only a week before the opening match of the 2020 OWL season. Although the Russian team was told to wait for the official statement from Blizzard, the said statement never came, or in this case came very late.
"Commentators learned about the lack of broadcast only a week before the start of the season, which cost us 4 months of waiting without work. We were asked to wait for the official announcement, but as you can see, the announcement did not happen, they simply forgot about us," explained Rillion.
From what Rillion has shared with the community, it's easy to see that Russian Overwatch team has been put into quite an unenviable position, considering most of them are freelancers and losing four months of work for nothing can be quite debilitating.
Rillion ended his rant by thanking everyone who worked with him in the past and the community which supported him as an OWL caster, while also expressing his anger about the whole situation, considering he has put in a lot of work, which he was now informed it was all for nothing.
"Thanks to the team that made last season, the audience on overwatchleague_ru and on my personal channel. Among all the disciplines where I worked, this community was the most friendly and welcoming. Thank you again and maybe I'll see you again sometime in the future."
At this point, it's also unclear whether Overwatch League will ever have its own Russian stream, as we have no official statement from Blizzard, which would explain the reasoning behind their decision. While we can only speculate at this point, it's fair to assume Blizzard's decision came as a result of low viewership in the Russian region.
Written by KrajnikT
Tit Krajnik (KrajnikT) is an esports writer for onlineesports.com, where he reports news, features and writes other content related to the players, teams, industry and the esports scene as a whole.
He has previously worked as a news and betting-related articles writer in the "traditional" sports scene but later opted to turn his attention to esports, where he managed to combine his love for video games and the growing esports industry with his work.
Krajnik has started his journey as an esports writer by covering Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends, which he also played since its launch, but later broaden his skill-set to include other major esports titles including Dota 2, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow 6 Siege and Call of Duty.