Olivia R. January 16, 2020
As the Overwatch League's global 2020 season approaches, more and more broadcast talent have announced they are leaving. This has created quite some cause for concern despite new talent taking over some of the positions.
To address the growing gossip surrounding the seemingly constant stream of departures, senior director Jon Spector told The Esports Observer that there's nothing for fans to worry about going into 2020.
"We’re incredibly thankful for the talented voices that worked to launch the first two seasons of the Overwatch League, and wish all talent not returning nothing but the best,” Spector said. “We think we’ve had the best broadcast production in esports in 2018 and 2019, and our goal this season is no different as we evolve our broadcast to meet the needs of fans experiencing live esports in markets all over the world for the first time.”
Even though Spector said even more new broadcast talent would be announced soon, the Overwatch community is still skeptical about the Overwatch League's future.
Former OWL broadcast talent speak out against Blizzard
A couple of anonymous casters and analysts spoke with Dexerto about the reason for their departure, noting that most of the issues started when commisioner Nate Nanzer left the Overwatch League. One former OWL talent said that Nanzer had often acted as an advocate for the broadcasters, demanding higher pay and addressing other problems to higher ups at Blizzard.
“We came off the high of Season 1, where we were being told viewership was better than expected…We were expecting an increase, because we had far exceeded expectations. Instead, they followed that up by trying to cut all our pay by 30%," one former caster revealed.
When the talent realized how little some of their fellow casters were being paid, they spoke with Nanzer after Season 1 to "forgo pay increases" and instead make sure the individuals on the lower end of the scale were "properly compensated."
Going into Season 2, most broadcasters had received a 5% pay increase, "but it was hard fought."
With Nanzer gone, it seemed like many of the former talents felt they were being taken advantage of by Blizzard.
This coincides with Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles' public statement's regarding his reason for leaving the Overwatch League. He explained that Nanzer's departure “led to irreconcilable creative and philosophical differences between myself and the league’s current leadership, and all parties will be better served by parting ways.”
Ahead of 2020, Blizzard reportedly pushed for pay cuts once more despite many of the broadcast talent being expected to travel to matches all over the world to film live in various stadiums. While most of the talent felt fine with the increased travel, the alleged 30% pay cuts that Blizzard was pushing for came across as "insulting."
"It also makes you wonder where all these millions are going if they are lowballing us to this degree… There’s something weird going on with the money in this League," an anonymous caster said.
Dafran stands up for Overwatch League
Not one to shy away from controversy, former Overwatch League pro Daniel "Dafran" Francesca called the former OWL casters an "overrated Gucci brand." He noted that there are better people for the job who would apparently do it for a lot less money than what MonteCristo, Malik Forte, and Auguste "Semmler" Massonnat were demanding.
“Why do they think they’re worth so much? Honestly, the casters who left… So what, dude?” Dafran said to his viewers. "I didn't like any of [them] anyway."
Dafran then concluded that the upcoming "hype" talent will be "a lot better" than the "overrated" former broadcast talent.
This take on the situation didn't sit well with Forte, who recently left after Blizzard wouldn't budge on their plans for his salary for the 2020 season.
"Damn son. 'Gucci?' You know how racist they are and how much I don't like them. You could've at least said like 'Lululemon,'" Forte shot back on Twitter.
While it was obviously a light-hearted response to Dafran's call out, Forte did have some more serious words for the former OWL player.
"Real talk tho, don't misinform ya fans man. You don't know my or anyone's situation. Have a lil respect my G," Forte said.