The competitive gaming and eSports scene continues to be a business on the rise thanks to games like League of Legends, Street Fighter 5, and many popular franchises like Halo. Blizzard clearly has aspirations of breaking further into this lucrative market and taking it in a more mainstream direction with the help of its popular shooter, Overwatch. After introducing the ambitious eSports initiative known as the Overwatch League last year at BlizzCon, Blizzard has finally revealed the first seven teams and the owners set to represent the league once it officially begins.
As revealed in a new video by the Overwatch League commissioner, Nate Nanzer, the first seven teams come from around the world. Five teams are located in the United States including Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami-Orlando. Teams from Shanghai and Seoul round out the initial group. Blizzard expects to add more teams and cities to these seven over time.
While actually introducing the teams is certainly a major milestone, the league is also garnering a lot of support by some major names from some of the biggest teams in sports. As initially reported, Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots, purchased the rights for the Boston-based Overwatch team, while Jeff Wilpon, current COO of the New York Mets MLB team, is in charge of the New York City Overwatch team.
Not content to stop there, Overwatch League also includes major names from the world of eSports as well. Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals, investing in the LA team, Ben Spoont, CEO and co-founder of Misfits Gaming, heading up the Miami-Orlando team, and Andy Miller, chairman and founder of NRG Esports, running the San Francisco squad. Blizzard’s Chinese partner NetEase runs the Shanghai team while Kevin Chou, co-founder of Kablam, is in charge of Team Seoul.
Tying teams to specific cities was always part of the plan, as Blizzard attempts to emulate the successes of traditional sports leagues like the NFL and NBA. The league is expected to start up later this year, through matches played in an arena in Los Angeles for the first season. Revenue will be shared between teams and each team can individually generate a capped amount of local revenue as well. Provided everything goes well, future seasons will transition to a more a traditional city home/away schedule.
Overwatch is available now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.