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Activsion Blizzard Esports lay off 50 employees as CDL and OWL look to online future

The company is moving away from live events as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, forcing changes throughout the structure of its esports division.
Activsion Blizzard Esports lay off 50 employees as CDL and OWL look to online future
Activision Blizzard continues to layoff employees well into 2021, this time hitting its esports division, with over 50 employees being at risk of losing their jobs, Sports Business Journal has reported.

Tony Pettiti, a top executive at Activision Blizzard, revealed that this move is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prevented both the Call of Duty and Overwatch League to continue expanding the Homestand model the company had planned since their inception, which would have seen teams travel to different cities and countries to compete.

"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. 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," Pettiti stated.

(Picture: Overwatch League)

The Overwatch League, which kicked off the 2020 Season with live events in cities like Washington or Dallas, not only ditched the Homestand model as the pandemic arose but pivoted from a seasonal league format to a tournament-centric one, a change that will continue moving into OWL 2021.

According to Activision Blizzard, live events will be a part of their strategy moving forward, however, online play could still be the focus regardless even in a post-pandemic scenario. 

The decision to layoffs more employees has been severely criticized by investors, as CEO Bobby Kotick is set to receive a $200 million payout thanks to the "Shareholder Value Creation Incentive" in his employment agreement.