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Blizzard’s Overwatch League kicks off later this year

by on July 12, 2017
 

We’ve known for a while that Blizzard was looking to make Overwatch the next big thing in competitive gaming, we’ve known that Blizzard was hunting for big money to make this league jump kick off the ground. On this week’s podcast, J and I talk about Robert Kraft, CEO of the Kraft Group, you know, the owner of the New England Patriots, has purchased the rights to a team, as did Jeff Wilpon, COO of the New York Mets. Clearly, this league is going to be top tier and legit, when it comes to professionalism and status.

Today, however, Blizzard has announced that the league for Overwatch would kick off later this year and that they have the first seven teams and their respective owners. Here are the team:

  • 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)

It appears that Kraft must not have been a hard sell, when it came to buying into an e-sports league, as the owner of the Patriots has said that he’s been eyeing 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.

While seven teams is just the start, once Blizzard gets the ball rolling you can certainly expect the number of teams to skyrocket. Currently the league is set up by city and to a degree, countries. Right now, we have teams in the USA representing Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Miami, and San Francisco. But because Blizzard is so beloved overseas, they also have two international teams, Shanghai, China and Seoul, South Korea. Blizzard definitely has plans to bring the Overwatch league up to snuff with league teams rivaling traditional sports leagues like the NFL, which has 32 teams. So as the Overwatch league grows, I think you can expect teams from countries like Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Australia and more. As well as more US cities like Chicago, Tampa, Baltimore, Oakland, Seattle, I think you get the drift. Point is, Blizzard has a lot of potential to make Overwatch bigger than any other eSport league. While DOTA and League of Legends are the current kings of eSports, they don’t have team backers like the owner of the freaking Patriots. We could see a prize pool that makes Valve’s $1 million prize look paltry.

There is a lot of money to be made here, especially from ticket sales, advertising and broadcast revenue. Much like the NFL, the revenue in the Overwatch league will be shared among all teams, but with the home team or local team keeping all the revenue from the home stadium or venue, up to a certain undisclosed amount.

Do you like in-game purchases? Love those loot boxes and skins? Well, it looks like your favorite teams will be getting some special, in game items that players can purchase and 50% of the profit of those items will also go to the teams. Overall, there is a lot money to be made here and Blizzard is just getting started.

The only question I have, is where can we watch the Overwatch League? Since broadcast revenue is a point of income for these team owners, I’m curious as to where Blizzard is trying to get these games on the air and in what time slot?