A strong focus of the Overwatch League is to provide competitive gamers with the kind of status typically given to professional athletes in traditional sports.
Overwatch developer Activision Blizzard has launched Overwatch League, the first eSports competition with locally based professional Overwatch teams. The other six teams in the global league will be New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, Shanghai and Seoul.
Overwatch League bucks the trend of other eSports tournaments because, instead of private teams with names such as Fnatic, Team Dignitas and Evil Genius, Overwatch League plans to root them in physical locations like football teams. The online multi-player game has more than 30 million players worldwide, according to Blizzard. The new franchise owners include leaders from China, South Korea and the United States already invested in eSports as well as newcomers to the almost $700-million industry, Kraft Group LLC CEO and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.
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For the league's first season, matches will be played in Los Angeles, the organization said. For one thing, some of them actually own teams in the National Basketball Association and NFL. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of people watch eSports. Fans can rally behind a local team rather than just a team they made a decision to align with.
The company sold franchises for seven teams in its Overwatch League, which it says is the first major esports league with city-based teams - and reportedly for about $20M each.
The $20 million buy-in is a hefty price, considering MLS teams could be purchased for as little as $10 million a decade ago.
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Both the Overwatch League and the League of Legends North America Championship Series featuring team revenue from advertising, media rights, branded virtual items, sponsorship share, and merchandise share.
Kotick envisioned "Overwatch" players becoming local heroes and role models, similar to stars of real world sports.
Establishing local teams to compete in an Activision league devoted to its hit 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. In South Korea and East Asia as a whole, watching competitive video games has been popular for years. eSports is a fast-growing industry, and games like Call of Duty and DOTA 2 host huge regular competitions with prize pools reaching into the millions. Whatever happens, it's clear that Activision Blizzard wants to take eSports to a new audience and it believes Overwatch has the chops to do just that.
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