Are you ready to get your competitive game on, Overwatch players? Blizzard Entertainment released the names of seven owners for the Overwatch League. The list included big names in traditional sports, gaming, and other industries. The New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, will take on the league out of Boston, and Jeff Wilpon, owner of the New York Mets, will take the New York league. There will be Overwatch League teams in Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Seoul.

“We looked at major cities around the world and came up with a list of cities that wasn’t just based on population size but really the concentration of Overwatch players,” said Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer “And once we had our cities identified, we set out and were talking to who we thought would be great owners. We wanted to make sure we were partnering with partners who, first and foremost, had a proven track record of building and growing a fanbase.”

The Overwatch League is the first major international pro-sports league based in a city structure. It is a big step for competitive gaming, as it brings it more in line with traditional sports leagues. Overwatch, however, will be unique as it’s teams will come from different continents.

Here is a rundown of the first seven Overwatch League team owners.

  • Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots (Boston)
  • Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets (New York)
  • Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals (Los Angeles)
  • Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando)
  • Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports (San Francisco)
  • NetEase (Shanghai)
  • Kevin Chou, Co-founder of Kabam (Seoul)

Kraft, who is Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group,  said in a statement that his company has been looking at the esports market “for a number of years.” “The incredible global success of Overwatch since its launch, coupled with the League’s meticulous focus on a structure and strategy that clearly represents the future of esports made this the obvious entry point for the Kraft Group,” he said.

The seven teams that were announced today is just the beginning. The MLB has 30 teams and the NFL has 32 teams. You can expect Blizzard to grow the league over time, as they find good partners.

“We don’t have a set number in our mind right now,” Nanzer said. “We want to grow this over time. We want to make sure that we get great owners in big markets around the world. We expect this to be the first of many announcements. And over time, I think you can expect that the size of the Overwatch League will be similar to the size of the traditional sports leagues.”

Competitive gaming is on the rise, however, the debate of esports being considered real sports will never end. But you won’t find Nanzer losing much sleep over it.

“It doesn’t really matter,” he stated. “At the end of the day, it’s competition, and people love to see competition. People have hobbies like golf and tennis and if you have hobbies like that, you want to go watch and see who is the best in the world at those hobbies–and it’s no different for games.”

The Overwatch league was introduced last year at Blizzcon, and will officially start later this year. The matches will first start in Los Angeles, and then have home and away matches. Local teams will need to find their own venues. Full details on ticket prices and schedule will be available later this year.

How will teams make money?

Teams will make money through ticket sales, advertising, and broadcasting rights. According to Blizzard, money made will be split evenly among the teams. Local teams will get to keep revenue made through their venue up to a certain percentage. There will be league/team based merchandise sold as well and 50% of that revenue will go into a shared pool between the teams.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions, but this is a huge step for competitive gaming going forward. Judging by who has signed on as owners of teams proves that competitive gaming is no passing fad.

 

About The Author

Katie K
Sr. Staff Writer

Katie is a Texan transplant living in Boise, Idaho. She's been playing video games since she was about 5 starting with Spyro on the PlayStation 1. A sophomore at Boise State, she's studying broadcast journalism. When not at school and work, she can be found inhaling coffee, playing video games, or chilling with her gecko.