Boston, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, Shanghai, and Seoul are the first cities to host official teams for Blizzard’s new eSports League.
Nate Nanzer, Commissioner of the Overwatch League, announces the league’s first teams confirming speculation from ESPN last week. The first seven cities include several major US cities as well as Shanghai and Seoul. Nanzer confirms more teams will be joining soon.
Blizzard first announced their intention to start an official Overwatch League late last year and since then players and analysts have been trying to predict the future of the venture. The league has received some backlash as the high cost of teams had allegedly driven traditional eSports teams away. Rumors circulated that the teams would cost millions of dollars and that even NFL owners had expressed interest in expanding to eSports.
Looking at the list of cities and owners that appears to not be the case. Many of the initial teams have been bought by big names in eSports including Misfits Gaming , NRG eSports , and the Immortals.
The first set of cities and their owners are:
- Boston: Robert Kraft, chairman, and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots
- New York: Jeff Wilpon the COO of the New York Mets baseball team and the executive vice-president of Sterling Equities.
- Miami-Orlando: Ben Spoont, CEO, and co-founder of Misfits Gaming
- San Francisco: Andy Miller, chairman, and founder of NRG Esports
- Los Angeles: Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals
- Shanghai, China: Netease, the company was a pioneer in the development of Internet services for China
- Seoul, South Korea: Kevin Chou, co-founder of Kabam
Blizzard is attempting to merge traditional sports business structure with eSports by linking teams to cities and hosting regular seasons. Once teams have been locked in they will be able to recruit top eSports figures as well as utilize Blizzard’s combine, similar to a draft, to scout upcoming talent and sign them.