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Activision Blizzard esports department clobbered by layoffs

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Activision Blizzard has laid off "a lot" of esports-related employees, according to Matt Morello, former associate director of Overwatch League, whose job was among the cuts.

"Unfortunately today, along with a lot of other amazing esports folks, I've been let go from Blizzard," Morello wrote on X today.

A person close to the matter tells PC Gamer that these cuts are part of the 1,900 layoffs Microsoft announced last week, which have already hit Activision Blizzard hard and included the cancellation of Blizzard's survival game project. According to the source, Activision Blizzard's esports programs are going forward as planned despite the cuts.

Among those laid off are Overwatch caster Soe Gschwind, who just last week hosted a video introduction of Overwatch 2's new esports plans, which includes the formation of the Overwatch Champions Series and partnerships with Faceit and Dreamhack.

The cuts also include Overwatch and Call of Duty League's "observer" teams, who were responsible for controlling spectator cameras and other aspects of esports broadcasting.

"The observer teams for both OWL and CDL did so much behind the scenes for their leagues, their esports, and their games that many people won't ever know," wrote Observer manager Jess DiPaola. "I'm devastated."

In November of last year, Blizzard announced that it was "transitioning from the Overwatch League," its tumultuous attempt to emulate traditional sports with a league of city-based Overwatch teams. The new Overwatch Champions Series structure, which will include two in-person international events, was broadly met with positive reactions from fans last week.

Alongside the layoffs, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra exited the company and was replaced by Call of Duty GM Johanna Faries.