HUGE Overwatch eSports League Announced – Franchise Owners Include Robert Kraft, Mets Owner
Competitive gaming just took a monumental step in international eSports. Blizzard has confirmed the first seven cities participating in the new and exciting Overwatch League. The franchises for the league that will kick off later this year will be based in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, New York City, San Francisco, Seoul, and Shanghai. The first season the league will be based in Los Angeles, with the teams eventually developing their own local venues to set up “home and away” match-ups for future seasons.
“The Overwatch League will celebrate and reward our most accomplished players and give fans more opportunities to engage with each other,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement. “We’re excited to be working with leaders from eSports and traditional sports to celebrate our players and to establish the Overwatch League.”
The Overwatch League, which was first announced in November of last year, aims to become the eSports equivalent of an international version of the NBA, MLB or NFL. Coincidentally, several of the new team owners are owners of professional sports franchises.
- Boston: Robert Kraft, owner of NFL team the New England Patriots and chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group.
- Los Angeles: Noah Whinston, CEO of esports team organization Immortals.
- Miami-Orlando: Ben Spoont, CEO and co-founder of esports team organization Misfits, which is partnered with NBA team the Miami Heat.
- New York City: Jeff Wilpon, COO of MLB team the New York Mets and co-founder of Sterling.VC.
- San Francisco: Andy Miller, co-owner of NBA team the Sacramento Kings and founder of eSports team organization NRG Esports.
- Seoul: Kevin Chou, co-founder of Kabam, a mobile game developer and publisher.
- Shanghai: NetEase, a Chinese internet technology company that holds licenses in China for all current Blizzard games.
“It was really important to us that we find owners that had a proven capability of building a fanbase and growing and fostering fandom,” Nanzer said. “It’s a great mix of owners, a great mix of expertise. One of the things that’s really exciting for us at Blizzard is bringing all these great minds to the table to help build this league collaboratively with our owners.”
There were reports that there were franchise fees of $20 million for the Overwatch League. Blizzard plans to announce more teams and owners before the start of the first season later this year.
“Our goal is to launch a global league and that means having teams in all the major cities around the world,” said Nate Nanzer, Blizzard Entertainment’s former global eSports director, who will be the commissioner of the Overwatch League. “We’re in active conversations with potential owners for cities in Europe, Latin America, other regions, and hope to have more details on that in the coming months.”
The Overwatch League expect to make money through ticket sales, advertising, and merchandise. They could get money from signing a rights deal with a streaming service such as Twitch. The city-based professional eSports league will have revenue-sharing. Teams will get an equal amount from revenue streams on top of their local revenue streams.
“The teams share in all the global revenues generated by the league, whether that’s global sponsorship, global media rights for the content, [or] global physical merchandise,” Nanzer said. Blizzard said they would announce details on the Overwatch League prize pools at a later date, but Nanzer said it will be “meaningful.”
The professional gamers will have minimum starting salaries and benefits, but compensation was not revealed as of yet.
“I think the next six months are going to determine what eSports will look like for the next few decades,” Nanzer said.