The past few days have been rough for the Overwatch League. With the end of 2019 — and with it the end of most OWL caster contracts — the league has already lost some of its most prominent names.
On Monday, Jan. 1, Chris Puckett announced that he will not be hosting the OWL for a third season and that he’s moved back to New York. Puckett’s intention is to work as a freelancer from now on and focus more on his “roots” and the games he “grew up with.”
“Those, of course, are titles like HALO, I get to get back to Call of Duty, I’ll have time for Counter-Strike again. I’m super pumped to dive deep into Rainbow Six and APEX Legends.”
Puckett was not the only one, however, and a perhaps even bigger loss was the departure of one of its most prominent figureheads, veteran caster and analyst Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles. In a long Twitter thread from Sunday, Mykles explained that the departure of former OWL commissioner Nate Nanzer created “irreconcilable creative and philosophical differences” between himself and OWL’s current leadership. Like Puckett, Mykles said he will be exploring new career paths, leaving behind all Overwatch content creation and casting to transition into creative director and producer.
Mykles’ decision also meant the break-up with his long-standing desk partner Erik “DoA” Lonnquist, with whom he started way back in League of Legends, casting Korea’s LCK. However, it looks like DoA will be staying with the Overwatch League at least for now, saying that he still has faith in the league’s purpose, despite acknowledging Mykles’ concerns.
“I’ve put everything I had into Overwatch since 2016, although I absolutely share Monte’s concerns about the league. That said, I still believe in the concept of what it’s trying to do in the esports space and I’m still totally in love with the game in general. All I can say is, we’ll see.”
The departures of key figures is certainly not a positive development for the league, however. In 2020, OWL is supposed to transition into its home/away match schedule, with teams visiting each other at their home stadiums — a massive endeavor both logistically and financially that, if unsuccessful, could seriously harm OWL’s future development and growth. The league’s broadcast deal with Twitch has also ran its two-year course and with viewership numbers not at all impressive, it’s unlikely OWL secures another $90M deal.