Your weekly dose of esports happenings curated by Champria
Overwatch 2 closed alpha is out for OWL players - closed beta to come in late April
Finally, we have gotten official news about Overwatch 2. In a Community Update, Aaron Keller confirmed that “Overwatch League Players and other select partners” are being given an Overwatch 2 closed alpha build as early as this week, mentioning that they are prioritizing getting the pvp content out to testing and leaving the pve to be released at a later date.. There will also be a closed beta in late April, which you can sign up for now at playoverwatch.com. This beta will include features such as 5v5 pvp game, a new ping system, a new hero in Sojourn, a new mode in Push, new maps, and hero reworks for Bastion, Orisa, Sombra, and Doomfist.
The Overwatch League hired Brad Ross from NBA2k League as their new Operations Chief
A well-known man on the esports scene, Brad “PYYYOUR” Ross, former professional Overwatch player in Team Splyce in the early days of the game, who has been the Operations Lead for the NBA 2K League, is going to join the Overwatch League as the Chief of Competitive Operations - the same branch of the League that Mike “Packing10” Szklanny, former General Manager of the Los Angeles Valiant, was hired to manage. In the last few years, Brad has made great progress in the NBA 2K League, and now joins the growing amount of Overwatch League staff with prior experience in esports, in preparation for the League’s fifth season, set to start on May 5.
Xbox teams up with the Lakers and Dwight Howard to create a New Dream Space
In a post written by Chris Munson, Xbox’s Senior Global Sports Partnerships Manager, Microsoft have announced that they are expanding their sponsorship with the Los Angeles Lakers and NBA All-Star Dwight Howard to remodel part of the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley, with the goal of empowering the club’s members to dream big through the program’s new Dream Space. The process required transforming what was a multi-purpose room into a gaming lab with room for 20 students, which also features custom and unique purple and gold Xbox Series S consoles, gaming PCs, and more. Chris explained that “the new Xbox Dream Space will allow kids to experience the joy of gaming as they explore their own passions.” On top of that, Dwight Howard also surprised the kids with a private meet-and-greet, and even played their favorite games with (and against) them.
Microsoft announced that they are suspending all new sales in Russia
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and after Ukrainian Vice-Prime Minister Mykhalio Fedorov requested that both Microsoft and Sony leave the Russian market on March 2nd, Microsoft have announced via a post on their blog, written by Brad Smith, President & Vice Chair of the company, that they will be stopping all new sales of any Microsoft products in Russia. “Like the rest of the world, we are horrified, angered and saddened by the images and news coming from the war in Ukraine and condemn this unjustified, unprovoked and unlawful invasion by Russia,” explained Brad, then going on to announce that “We are announcing today that we will suspend all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia,” as well as “coordinating closely and working in lockstep with the governments of the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, and we are stopping many aspects of our business in Russia in compliance with governmental sanctions decisions.” Microsoft’s main competitor in gaming, Sony, announced that they were pulling sales of the new Gran Turismo 7 in Russia as well, but no further announcements have been made at the time of writing.
Snoop Dogg is joining FaZe Clan, although we still don’t know what for
Famed rapper and renowned celebrity Snoop Dogg has joined FaZe Clan, as the organization announced today via their Twitter. The rapper, who is now 50 years old, is known to have streamed on twitch and made appearances in many different games, such as being a multiplayer announcer in Call of Duty: Ghosts’ DLC. While we still don’t know exactly what role Snoop Dogg will play in the organization, we can likely expect to hear more soon. For now, we will have to settle for the hilarious announcement video, featuring a dancing, animated 3D dog and clips of Snoop Dogg playing games on twitch.
Riot Games and Activision Blizzard raise money for humanitarian relief in Ukraine
Both Activision Blizzard and Riot Games have taken a hand in helping Ukraine in the last week. Activision Blizzard made a post announcing that they are suspending sales of any of their games in Russia, as well as noting that the company is matching employee donations 2:1, having fundraised a total of $300,000 for humanitarian relief in Ukraine thus far. “I want to reassure you that the safety of our employees is our leadership team’s top priority. We are doing everything possible to assist employees, and their families, who are being directly affected by this tragedy,” said President and COO of Activision Blizzard Daniel Alegre.
Riot Games, on the other hand, has committed to donating $1 million to three different humanitarian organizations for relief in Ukraine: the International Medical Corps, Doctors Without Borders, and the Polish Red Cross. On top of that, they have also opened a fundraiser for their players across all of their titles, with profits from any battle pass sales from March 5th to the 12th going to humanitarian relief as well. “The war in Ukraine has caused an expanding humanitarian crisis. Since it began, we’ve heard from players around the world that they want to help—and so do we,” Riot published in an article regarding the conflict.
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