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ESPORTS HUDDLE: ACTIVISION BLIZZARD LAYOFFS HIT ESPORTS DIVISION

Activision Blizzard has announced multiple layoffs across the company, with many impacting the company’s esports division.

The company’s president of sports and entertainment Tony Petitti confirmed the layoffs in an interview with The Esports Observer, without mentioning exactly which roles would be affected.

Petitti also confirmed that while the company — which owns both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League — will not abandon live events entirely, it will be focusing on a new business model that is “less dependent on live events.”

“We learned a lot last year in terms of how the leagues can be structured for online play, and we’ll look to carry forward the best practices from that,” Petitt said. “In terms of timing, it’s a reaction to the realities of how the leagues are playing and what resources we need to allocate to best serve the league, owners, teams and fans.”

In response to a request for comment by VENN, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said “Players are increasingly choosing to connect with our games digitally. Everything we do is through the lens of our players, and over the past year, we have been exploring how we might best serve their needs.”

“The esports team, much like traditional sports, entertainment, and broadcasting industries, has had to adapt its business due to the impact the pandemic has had on live events,” the spokesperson continued. “We retained a vast majority of the team throughout a complex year and these changes were not made lightly, particularly in the current environment. We are taking extensive steps to ease the transition for all affected employees.”

The spokesperson also reaffirmed Petitti’s commitment to live events, saying they are “still very much a part of both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League strategies. We plan to get back to them as soon as it’s safe to do so and logistically feasible.”

Meanwhile, Brooklyn Nets basketball star Kevin Durant has joined New York-based esports organization Andbox as an investor. He joins actor Michael B. Jordan and others as investors in Andbox, which owns the Call of Duty League’s New York Subliners and Overwatch League’s New York Excelsior among other teams. “The passion that New York sports fans have has really hit home with me,” Durant said. “Andbox is bringing that same energy to esports here, and that’s something [Durant’s investment company] Thirty Five Ventures is very excited to be a part of.”

Elsewhere in the world of competitive gaming:

Rocket League Launches Tournament Celebrating Women in the Community

The official Rocket League blog has announced a new tournament celebrating women in the community. Called the “Goals for Change Tournament,” the casual competition will feature an all-female roster of players from both the North American and European regions competing in multiple Rocket League events including Hoops and Boomer Ball. The winning teams in each region will receive $10,000, with second, third and fourth place earning $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000 respectively. The competition begins March 24 at 10 a.m. PT.

Korean League of Legends Developmental League Suspended Indefinitely

The developmental league of the Korean League of Legends Pro League (LPL), the League Developmental League (LDL), has been indefinitely suspended as of March 17. No official reason for the suspension has been announced, but the decision comes on the heels of the suspension of FunPlus Phoenix jungler Zhou “Bo” Yang-Bo in February for reportedly telling the team he was “coerced into match-fixing while in the LDL” per a translation of a post on the team’s Weibo page. Yang-Bo has not returned to the team since the suspension.

Call of Duty League Announces Stage 2 Schedule

The Call of Duty League has announced the schedule for Stage 2 of the 2021 Season. Week 1 begins and ends with a match featuring the New York Subliners, first facing the Stage 1 Champion Atlanta Faze March 18 at 3PM Eastern/12PM Pacific and then taking on the LA Thieves March 21 at 6PM Eastern/3PM Pacific. Week 2 sees the Dallas Empire take on the Paris Legion first on March 25, then ends with a Chicago OpTic vs Florida Mutineers face-off on March 28. Finally, Week 3 begins April 1 with Dallas facing Florida, finishing on April 4 with Dallas vs Chicago. All three weeks feature at least two matches a day between Thursday and Sunday, totaling ten matches per weekend.

Photo courtesy of Activision

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