Overwatch League fans have noticed that two of the OWL’s more prominent sponsors, Xfinity and Coca-Cola, have reappeared for the 2021 playoffs after seeming to disappear as Activision-Blizzard’s investigation news broke.
In July 2021, it was revealed that Activision-Blizzard was being sued by California over gender discrimination in the workplace. And, in the months since, the company’s franchised leagues — the Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues — have quietly suffered from disappearing sponsors.
By the start of September, three separate waves of sponsorship uncertainties had emerged: T-Mobile was noticed missing on August 2; Coca-Cola and Statefarm were reportedly “reevaluating their partnerships” on August 5; Statefarm, Pringles, and IBM vanished on August 7; and, finally, Xfinity seemed to drop out around September 1.
Now, fans are surprised to find out that both Coca-Cola and Xfinity returned to the league’s official broadcast for Day 1 of the playoffs on September 21.
If Pine plays, it'll be the second-most surprising return we'll see today pic.twitter.com/iQM6j5w361
— Overwatch League Statistical Insights (@owlstatsnet) September 22, 2021
As pointed out by Twitter and Reddit users, it seems that Coca-Cola’s tumultuous partnership with the OWL has given way to a renewed sponsorship.
This is interesting news in particular, as fans had been quick to point out that, during the turmoil, popular player Su-min “SADO” Kim had removed the Coca-Cola labels from his trademark mid-game beverage.
Interestingly, Coca-Cola was never removed from the league’s website despite reported partnership uncertainties — but Xfinity was. And, while still not listed on the site, it appears that their sponsorship has returned to the broadcast.
What these renewed partnerships mean for the OWL is uncertain, but many fans speculated such a situation might arise. As mentioned on Reddit, some believed that the sponsors would return once the Activision-Blizzard heat simmered down.
That heat most certainly remains active, as the SEC is now subpoenaing executives like CEO Bobby Kotick. But, with fans excited for an Overwatch 2 show match during the playoffs, this may be as good a time to partner with the OWL than ever.
For now, the OWL, Activision-Blizzard, and sponsors remain quiet about partnership discussions. Concerned fans will likely keep an eye out for sponsors during the rest of the playoffs, though, as there have been reports of league financial struggles.