Blizzard have announced the initial teams competing in the upcoming Overwatch League, the first major global professional esports league.
The league will have a city based structure – more commonly seen in traditional sports – in an attempt to drive development of local fanbases. Entrepreneurs and investors have snapped up franchises to represent eight major cities across the United States and Asia, with more to be unveiled soon.
- Boston (Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots)
- New York (Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets)
- Los Angeles (Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals)
- Miami-Orlando (Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming)
- San Francisco (Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports)
- Shanghai (William Ding, CEO of NetEase)
- Seoul (Kevin Chou, Co-founder of Kabam)
The first season is set to begin later this year. Regular season matches will be played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at an esports arena in Los Angeles while teams develop local venues for home and away fixtures in future seasons. A full schedule and information about ticket sales will be announced closer to launch.
Blizzard hope to grow local Overwatch communities, and have licensed teams to run up to five amateur events in their home territory each year. These events would complement the online Open Division as well as regional Contenders and other mid-tier leagues.
In a statement welcoming the teams Mike Morhaime, Blizzard Entertainment CEO and cofounder had the following to say, “Overwatch is a game about a diverse group of international heroes who fight for an optimistic vision of the future, and the Overwatch League is an extension of that spirit. We’re building this league for fans—esports fans, traditional sports fans, gaming fans—and we’re thrilled to have individuals and organizations who are as passionate about professional competition as we are, and who have extensive experience in all three fields, representing our first major international cities in the league.”