Activision allows CDL and OWL teams to skip franchise payments in 2020 - Dexerto
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Activision allows CDL and OWL teams to skip franchise payments in 2020

Published: 30/Sep/2020 3:18 Updated: 30/Sep/2020 3:24

by Brad Norton


Both Call of Duty League (CDL) and Overwatch League (OWL) organizations have been allowed by Activision Blizzard to dodge multimillion-dollar franchise fees in 2020.

In the midst of an extremely turbulent year, to say the least, both CDL and OWL competition has continued forward. The best Call of Duty players competed in an online postseason with $4.6 million on the line.


Meanwhile, the best Overwatch players are currently gearing up for the Grand Final Weekend which kicks off on October 8 in South Korea.

Despite the wrenches thrown in the gears for both leagues, Activision has pressed forward in 2020. However, the leagues haven’t quite operated how they were supposed to. Proper events with thousands of attendees came to a halt. Home Series and Homestands alike were both off the table due to the ongoing lockdown.

Fleta playing for Seoul Dynasty in 2019 OWL
Ben Pursell for Blizzard
Overwatch League will soon be returning to LAN competition, though without crowds for the Grand Finals Weekend.

With a huge chunk of change supposed to come from these live events, organizations certainly took a hit. As a result, Activision Blizzard is foregoing the need to pay millions in franchise fees this calendar year.

Sponsorship deals, merchandise sales, and prize winnings are just a few of the ways in which these orgs make money. When factoring in player and staff salaries, content costs, and everything else along the way, however, these fees add up. One of the planned means of generating revenue across the CDL and OWL was through live events.

Just four LAN events were held during the inaugural CDL season before the switch to online. OWL had six LAN events across North America before the same pivot.


It’s during these events that orgs look to turn a profit through ticket sales and merch stands. With these opportunities coming to a halt, teams haven’t been able to make the amount they would have projected at the beginning of 2020.

Houston Outlaws fans at an Overwatch League homestand event
Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment
There’s no telling when crowds might be allowed back to live events.

As a result, Activision Blizzard is allowing them to defer multimillion-dollar franchise fees that were reportedly due this year, according to The Washington Post. As many paid upwards of $20 million to acquire franchise slots in either league, payments are expected on an annual basis.

Due to the lack of live events, these repayments have the option of being postponed. Some orgs may choose to continue paying back in 2020, but the choice is there to hold off until 2021 for the teams that need it.

Twitter: LAGuerrillas
The final LAN event of the 2020 season took place in Los Angeles on March 7.

There’s no currently no ETA on when live events will return.

Options to establish bubbles akin to the NBA have been in discussion for the 2021 CDL season, and the OWL Finals are indeed taking place in a safe South Korean hub, though the return of crowds could still be a ways off.


Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster launches new gaming org Team Diverge

Published: 16/Oct/2020 13:00

by Matt Porter


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has announced the launch of his own gaming organization, Team Diverge, with six signed content creators and plans to move into esports.

Smith-Schuster is well-known for his incredible skill and talent on the football field, holding a number of NFL and Steelers franchise records, but fans of gaming will know him for his love of video games, his YouTube channel full of gameplay videos, and his close relationship with FaZe Clan.


As one of the most successful and marketable players in the NFL, JuJu is now continuing his crossover into the world of gaming with the introduction of his own organization named Team Diverge, which will start life as a content team with eyes to moving into esports in the future as well.

“In creating my own organization instead of joining one of the big established ones, I know I chose a different path than most in my position would do,” the 23-year-old stated. “I’m not just trying to be a popular figure in gaming for myself; I’m trying to build a special organization that is a platform for others.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster posing in front of Team Diverge logo.
Team Diverge
Smith-Schuster hopes Team Diverge can become a “special organization” that acts as a platform for others.

Team Diverge have already signed six rising content creators to serve as the core of the team in Tubasuki, Micahwave, CitizenSnipes, TheMeatMan, SteelCurtain, and Royalize, with new members set to be announced at a later date. Alongside gaming creators, Smith-Schuster also intends to recruit fellow athletes, musicians, and celebrities who will also help drive the team’s content and help promote the organization. With JuJu admitting that a lot of his Steelers teammates are gamers, it’s possible we could see them take part in Team Diverge content in the future.

Going forward, Team Diverge will be creating a content house in Spring 2021 that will host both gaming creators and crossover talent, something which JuJu is well accustomed to having lived in the FaZe House in the past. During the NFL offseason, the Steelers star will host both the talent and Team Diverge members for three months, creating new content for fans to enjoy.

Esports are also on the agenda, with TD hoping to acquire and create teams in all kinds of different games, including smash hits like Warzone and Fall Guys, and also intends to launch “streetwear-inspired apparel” with activewear brands who will help deliver limited-edition drops and evergreen merchandise for fans of JuJu and Team Diverge to enjoy.

JuJu Smith-Schuster warming up in his FaZe collaboration.
FaZe Clan
Smith-Schuster and FaZe Clan collaborated for a special merch line in 2018.

Smith-Schuster is no stranger to the world of gaming organizations thanks to his long history with FaZe, and even dropped a special merchandise collaboration with them back in 2018. JuJu’s relationship there was clearly fruitful, with the NFL star calling them “great guys” and admitting that he “learned a lot about the bridge between athletes, influencers, and gaming” thanks to the organization.

He’ll be aiming to take that experience into his new venture with Team Diverge, who JuJu states will aim to “move in a different direction than ordinary gaming organizations,” with plans to be “unique in how [they] operate.”