Let’s call a spade a spade: the Overwatch League has consistently been hamstrung by the most baffling business decisions stemming from Blizzard that has resulted in multiple organizations struggling to make money, disregarding however temporarily the struggles of online play that killed homestands before they even got into full swing.
Blizzard had connected itself to Fanatics, an iffy merchandiser that consistently offered a mixed bag – you never knew if your ~ $100 purchase for a team jersey was going to unravel itself, or have stickers for graphics instead of embroidery, or if you’d get one of the rare ones that were shipped and arrived as they were advertised.
New York Excelsior had brilliant merchandise before they were forced to shut their doors in exchange for whatever boiler-room deal that Blizzard had crafted with Fanatics, along with a slew of other stores. Quickly, the merchandise of the Overwatch League (and some would argue became an association of the League itself) was low-quality lowest-bidder apparel that had exorbitant costs with frankly horrendous quality.
Fanatics was a "multi-year merchandising deal" when it partnered with OWL in late 2018.
Multi-year can, indeed, mean only two years.
ARE WE FREE?? https://t.co/61B11IHSGk
— Liz Richardson (@mizliz_) February 1, 2021
Blizzard would begin doubling down on making exclusive deals with various manufacturers that would continue to annoy organizations that had bought into the league: the Herman Miller chairs that were used on the stage of the Blizzard Arena were switched for Dreamseat’s ‘ZipChairs’ that has multiple dealings with large physical sports organizations.
While the 2019 @overwatchleague season has ended, we couldn't be more excited for what's to come in the 2020 season!
— Zipchair Gaming (@ZipchairGaming) October 8, 2019
Queue complaints from players that the chairs weren’t made to allow for aiming or general PC gameplay – the armrests were frustrating those on the stage and abysmal quality was noticeable on the chairs from player cams with loose stitching and slanted logos.
Out with the old, in with the new…
SF Shock x Meta Threads 2021
— San Francisco Shock (@SFShock) February 1, 2021
While fans were enjoying the opportunity to mock Blizzard’s consistently poor branding choices with the Overwatch League that ended with the League moving onto YouTube Gaming Live (a choice that many correlate with their lowest numbers yet for 2020), and it starts becoming a bit of a concern as to who in the world is attempting to pilot the merchandising efforts of the Overwatch League that had them associating with big contracts instead of what fans were desperate for.
Now, it seems that some of these bizarre dealings are finally at the end as the San Francisco Shock has finally revealed on Reddit their own merchandise – it’s clean and stylish, and finally, something that you might actually be able to wear. It’s here, once again, and you might want to dive into this before someone at Blizzard notes that organizations are in danger of making money.
the fanatics / youtube deals killed overwatch league more than goats did, change my mind
— evan (@evanextreme) April 24, 2020
NRG, the parent organization of the San Francisco Shock, notes that the first round of the group buy ends on February 14, but that this is not temporary.
This is monumental for many organizations – NYXL easily had some of the most attractive merchandise before Blizzard shut them down, and the branding of arguably every organization went sideways once the quality became the laughing stock of esports, or at least for the fans of esports. Now, it remains to be seen if organizations can be frankly arsed enough to rebuild their merchandising efforts after a rough 2020 season before Blizzard swoops in with more interesting announcements.
San Francisco Shock has paired with Meta Threads – more announcements are expected to be forthcoming as organizations ready themselves for a 2021 season.