Overwatch League to lower player age minimum for 2023 in hopes for more “accessible” competition 

They can't buy cigarettes but they can sign an esports contract.

The possible start date of the 2023 Overwatch League season might still be up in the air after a series of delays related to world events and demolished partnerships, but the powers that be are still trying to make improvements for the sake of competition. 

Days before the free agency period is set to finally begin on Dec. 23after two rounds of delaysthe head of the Overwatch League, Sean Miller, announced a new rule to encourage a more competitive environment.

According to an announcement on Millers Twitter account, players can join the league at the age of 17 starting next season. This is a bump up from the legal age of 18 that was required of all players for the first five years of OWL competition.

As we look towards the FA window opening on Friday, we’re excited to share that our minimum age for OWL competition will be 17 starting in 2023, said Miller in a tweet. In a free to play world, we want to make the top level of Overwatch competition as accessible and inclusive as possible. 

This ruling opens up swaths of Overwatch Contenders players to OWL teams. Many big talents narrowly miss the signing window every year and often sit on the bench for the first part of the season, only to come in and make statements when they age up. League teams can now scoop up more talent from the Path to Pro than ever before.

Teams are looking toward an uncertain future as negotiations with NetEase, a publisher that allowed Blizzard games to be published in mainland China, broke down earlier this year. Four of the OWLs teams are based in China and a fifth is run by a Chinese organization; this deal may dismantle or completely reshape the East region in 2023.

If no other delays hit the league, fans should be hearing more about 2023 rosters after Dec. 23. After that date, teams can officially sign free agentsof which there are more than 100 from the 2022 season aloneand publicly announce Overwatch roster decisions.

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