In the wake of Activision Blizzard’s ongoing discrimination lawsuit, it appears that the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League have quietly lost their formerly prominent T-Mobile partnership.
On July 22, the state of California launched a civil lawsuit against Activision Blizzard citing a variety of gendered discrimination problems and a general “frat-boy culture.” From July 29 to August 1, Activision’s CDL hosted its biggest event of 2021: the Stage 5 Major.
Interestingly, the league’s main non-gaming sponsor, T-Mobile, seemingly disappeared fully during the event — despite it being the most-watched broadcast of the season.
Upon a deeper dive, the T-Mobile logo seems to have been taped over on players’ jerseys, while the brand was removed from all broadcast segments and from the CDL’s website. Additionally, this seems to have also happened for Activision’s sister league, the OWL.
T-Mobile quietly removed from CDL & OWL websites
The above screenshots show 1) the CDL website on July 21 and 2) the CDL website as of July 31. As you can see, T-Mobile has been removed in the week since Activision Blizzard was hit with the lawsuit. This also applies to the “Partners” page on the OWL website, which has been similarly tweaked.
Another visible change was that players had T-Mobile logos taped over during the Major V broadcast — while having them seemingly removed from graphics. As can be seen in pictures of the Subliners’ intro graphics from the Stage 4 Major and Stage 5, T-Mobile seems to have disappeared entirely.
While some may have noticed players with taped-over jerseys on broadcast, there are two other clear signs of the partnership distancing. One such example is the CDL’s weekly T-Mobile sweepstake, whose FAQ indicates that the final period has been “canceled” and that “the sweepstakes has ended.”
And, finally, on the OWL side — the league used to have T-Mobile branding in their “Overwatch League Perks” program (as seen in a May 2021 tweet), but that seems to have changed in early August.
There are no wrong answers 🥳
With Overwatch League Perks by @TMobile, if you watch 4 hours of the June Joust, you will receive an exclusive OWL skin.
Vote for which skin YOU want to earn 👇
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) May 24, 2021
It's that time again, folks!
Watch four hours of #OWL2021 to receive an exclusive legendary skin!
Vote below to determine which hero gets to rep the league in style 👇
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) August 2, 2021
With the CDL hitting milestone viewership (over 100K watched Major 5 live) and both leagues pushing toward highly anticipated postseasons, immediate suspicions arise about the sudden distancing.
In terms of timing, the simplest assumption would be T-Mobile distancing from the lawsuit. Whether that is the case or not remains to be known, as neither Activision nor T-Mobile have discussed the split publicly.
Dexerto has reached out to both Activision and T-Mobile PR for comment and will update this piece if we receive a response.