'Overwatch' eSports league to debut in December

September 20, 2017 by Glenn Chapman
The eSports league for "Overwatch" is set to make its debut in December, cashing in on a growing trend of video gaming as a spectator sport

Activision Blizzard announced Wednesday its "Overwatch" eSports league—cashing in on the rise of video gaming as a spectator sport—would make its debut in December.

The computer game giant also announced three additional franchises in its freshly formed league, bringing the total to 12.

The first of a series of exhibition matches was slated for December 6 at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, a custom-renovated live-event venue.

The inaugural season for the "Overwatch" league will official begin on January 10 of next year, with all matches held at Blizzard Arena, according to Activision.

"This is a huge milestone for the league," said Blizzard Entertainment chief executive Mike Morhaime.

This league is focused on competitive play of Activision's team-based shooter game "Overwatch," and a goal of building professional stars—possibly with big-league payouts.

Teams will share revenue generated by the latest entry in the hot trend of computer game play as spectator sport.

Teams have been bought in major US cities as well as in London, Shanghai and Seoul for what is being touted as the first eSports league to put an internet-Age spin on cultivating local teams the way it is typically done in .

"We made it our goal to have a presence in the cities where the densest concentrations of 'Overwatch' players live," said Pete Vlastelica, head of Major League Gaming, an eSports events company bought by Activision about two years ago.

Buyers of team rights in the Overwatch league include the NFL's New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and baseball's New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.

Although millions of people watch eSports online and at global tournaments, backers of Overwatch say this approach is likely to draw in new audiences which can develop loyalty to their local players and attend community competitions.

The "Overwatch" eSports league making its debut amid growing interest in competitive video gaming such as this League of Legends College Championship Game in May 2017

London, Houston franchises

Jack Etienne, founder and chief of Cloud9, expected by the second season to have matches taking place in London, where the well-known eSports organization has the Overwatch franchise.

"I have a massive metro population to draw on, to fill my stadium," Etienne told AFP.

"I am very bullish on being profitable out of the gate."

Etienne also saw the promise of live, local matches drawing a global audience as fans around the world tune in to streaming play online.

"I just can't wait to get this started," said Hector Rodriguez, owner and chief of OpTic Gaming, which bought an "Overwatch" franchise in the Texas city of Houston.

"We take a lot of pointers from traditional sports, but we try to re-invent as we go along."

Local teams devoted to hit Activision video game "Overwatch" could lead to some of the same treatment as traditional sports, with local matches held in real-world venues and trash-talk by fans wearing garb emblazoned with team logos.

Activision did not disclose the price of the franchises, but a source close to the matter confirmed reports that each cost about $20 million.

It is certainly a money-spinning industry, with global revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars and growing, according to industry trackers.

"Overwatch" boasts more than 30 million players around the world, and hundreds of millions of people watch eSports.

Explore further: eSports league announces franchises for 'Overwatch' competition

Related Stories

Activision Blizzard wants eSports to be big league

November 4, 2016

Activision Blizzard is creating an eSports league of its own with competitive play of team-based shooter game "Overwatch," and a goal of building professional stars—possibly with big-league payouts.

Facebook gets in game-streaming with Blizzard

June 6, 2016

Facebook on Monday announced that it is getting into the eSports game, jumping into the field of video games as spectator sports against Amazon-owned Twitch and Google's YouTube Gaming.

Recommended for you

A novel approach of improving battery performance

September 18, 2018

New technological developments by UNIST researchers promise to significantly boost the performance of lithium metal batteries in promising research for the next-generation of rechargeable batteries. The study also validates ...

Germany rolls out world's first hydrogen train

September 17, 2018

Germany on Monday rolled out the world's first hydrogen-powered train, signalling the start of a push to challenge the might of polluting diesel trains with costlier but more eco-friendly technology.

Technology streamlines computational science projects

September 15, 2018

Since designing and launching a specialized workflow management system in 2010, a research team from the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has continuously updated the technology to help computational ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.