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The Overwatch League's 2019 Grand Finals. Image: Bryan Bedder, stringer/Getty Images.

The Department of Justice is reportedly looking into a potential antitrust violation tied to Activision Blizzard's Overwatch League.

Why it matters: The growing world of esports had largely avoided the scrutiny of U.S. officials.

Driving the news: The inquiry was first reported by Dot Esports, which says the DOJ is looking into the league's unpublicized "soft salary cap." Such caps limit how much teams can pay their players without facing financial penalties.

  • The three-year-old Overwatch League features franchised teams of players from the U.S., South Korea and elsewhere that compete in six-v-six virtual shootouts with "Overwatch's" colorful sci-fi characters.
  • According to Dot Esports: "At the center of [the] inquiry is the lack of a players’ union, which would allow the Overwatch League to apply for a 'nonstatutory labor exemption.' That status has been granted to the NFL, NBA, and other pro sports leagues who have labor unions."

What they're saying: "We have received an inquiry from the Department of Justice and are cooperating accordingly," an Activision Blizzard spokesperson told Axios.

  • They continued: "We deliver epic entertainment to our fans and support our players and teams in producing the most competitive and enjoyable esports leagues in the world."
  • A spokesperson for the DOJ declined to comment.

Go deeper

Oct 2, 2021 - Sports

NWSL commissioner resigns amid sexual harassment, abuse scandal

NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird in Seoul in February 2018. Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for USOC

The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) announced Friday it accepted Commissioner Lisa Baird's resignation, which comes in the wake of widespread detailed accounts from players alleging sexual harassment and abuse.

Why it matters: The league is now without a commissioner in the midst of a growing crisis. It faces investigation and potential sanctions from both FIFA's judicial bodies and U.S. Soccer and was forced to cancel multiple games scheduled for this weekend.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.