According to multiple sources, the Washington Justice is in the process of drastically decreasing its competitive cost following a loss of confidence in the Overwatch League (OWL), due to the continuing uncertainty around the financial prospects of the League.
The organisation is allegedly trying to sell all of its OWL players in an effort to recoup some of its losses and significantly decrease its competitive cost. With the official OWL trade deadline rapidly approaching on August 18, 2022, sources alleged that the Justice will struggle to off-load most of its roster to other OWL teams. The downsizing may also affect staff at the team management and coaching level of the organisation.
The news arrives just eight days before the closing of the official trade deadline, for the fifth Overwatch League season. Though called a trade deadline, the rule sees teams still able to sign players after August 18, though only players not signed to an Overwatch League contract at the time of the deadline expiration will be allowed to play out the remainder of the season. Other players, such as those competing in Overwatch Contenders, may still both be signed and be able to play past the trade deadline.
This combination of factors may work significantly against the Justice’s current players. As such, it is possible for the organisation to only release its players after the trade deadline expires while still maintaining the OWL-mandated six contracted players by signing Contenders talent in their place. Sources allege that at least some of the current Justice’s lineup would consequently become undesirable trade targets, even as free agents and with their buyouts lifted, due to their ineligibility to play in the fifth OWL season.
Players released from their contract in the Overwatch League receive a minimum of 30-days of their annualised salary upon contract termination as severance. While this contract clause may be subject to negotiation, sources advise that 30-days has become the default amount for most OWL contracts.
Whether or not the Justice will release its players on request to free agency status prior to the trade deadline, thus lifting their buyout demands and voiding eligibility concerns, is currently unknown. It is important to note that the potential of retaining and fielding some of their current players at a later point in the season has apparently not been ruled out at present.
The Overwatch League has failed to attract any new sponsors past its existing partnerships with trading cards company Upper Deck and VoIP application TeamSpeak for the fifth season of the Overwatch League, following the recent lawsuit posed by the state of California to Blizzard regarding a ‘frat-boy culture’. Viewership of the OWL broadcast had also not increased, despite switching to an early build of Overwatch 2 alongside two Overwatch 2 PvP betas. Despite incentivising fans by encouraging them to watch the Overwatch League stream in return for beta access, the viewership numbers only saw a moderate increase. The exclusive streaming rights deal with YouTube signed in 2020 which is seen as Overwatch League’s biggest source of income is also coming up for renewal.
A spokesperson for the Overwatch League shared the response to GGRecon’s request for comment: “I can confirm that the trade deadline is 11:59pm PT on August 18 and that players without active Overwatch League contracts may still be signed after the deadline. Teams are fully responsible for their roster decisions.”
The Washington Justice could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
Read More: Washington Justice Trying To Sell Its Players After Loss Of Trust In OWL Finances