Overwatch League – Teams, Schedule, Arena and More
Overwatch League is slowly and steadily shaping up to be the premier Esports phenomenon. The final list of participating teams has recently been finalized. We now have 12 confirmed city teams and their owners. Here’s a quick reminder in case you forgot:
- Boston: Robert Kraftman, chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group and the New England Patriots
- New York: Jeff Wilpon, VC and COO of the New York Mets
- San Francisco: Andy Miller, chairman and founder of NRG Esports
- Los Angeles (2 teams):
Noah Winston, Immortals CEO
Stan and Josh Kroenke, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment
- Miami & Orlando: Ben Spoont, Misfits CEO & cofounder
- Shanghai: NetEase, internet technology company
- Seoul: Kevin Chou, Kabam cofounder
- London: Jack Etienne, Cloud9 founder and CEO
- Philadelphia: Dave Scott, president and CEO of Comcast Spectator (Philadelphia Flyers)
- Dallas: Mike Rufail, owner and CEO of Team EnVyUs
- Houston: Hector Rodriguez, OpTic Gaming owner and CEO
The player signing window is open until October 30th. Naturally, the talent hunting frenzy is in full force. In such an environment, the professional players, especially the best of the best, find themselves torn between multiple options. Such was the case with Seagull, one of the best Overwatch players these days. He recently signed with Team EnVyUs, stating that choosing his Overwatch League team was one of the hardest decisions in his life.
Overwatch League will start with a preseason on December 6th, 2017. It will be a prequel of sorts – an exhibition presenting all the teams for the first time. The official first season of the Overwatch League commences on January 10th 2018. The playoffs and finals are slated for July. More format, schedule and ticketing details will become available in the following months, so stay tuned.
Where’s the location?
The action will take place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, located in Burbank, California. It’s a familiar venue for many Esports fans and competitors. It will be officially revealed during the upcoming Overwatch Contenders Playoffs on October 7th-8th. Tickets are already available, but hurry up if you plan on attending. The supply is limited.
With the high production value displayed during World Cup and Overwatch Contenders broadcasts, Overwatch League is bound to maintain and likely even surpass the high bar. This is going to be especially critical due to Blizzcon being scheduled just a couple weeks prior to preseason showdown. The annual convention will most likely introduce at least one new hero. As the current range of characters is rather small compared to, say, League of Legends or DOTA 2, the potential for radical shifts and changes in competitive tournament meta is significant.
The casters, the camera crew, the producers and all the staff in general will all need to be aware of these changes, and adapt accordingly. This was something that posed a considerable challenge thus far. However, Overwatch is a really, really young Esport title, so it’s understandable. Nevertheless, to make Overwatch League a viable Esports project in the long run, these issues will need to be resolved swiftly and competently. Surely, if Blizzard can’t pull it off, nobody can.
What’s with all this hype?
Obviously, as the player signing period nears its end, more information about team rosters will start emerging to the surface. One thing’s for sure – Korean players will be highly sought after. Cloud9, the London franchise, has already established precedent by acquiring Kongdoo Pantera team, arguably the second best Korean team at the moment.
On the other hand, the fact that there are only 12 teams will indirectly lead to some of the best Overwatch players settling as substitutes. Some may even find themselves in Overwatch Contenders league, missing from the spotlight for the time being. Hopefully, it will force the players to keep improving all the time and thus increase the overall competitive quality and appeal of the league and the entire Esports ecosystem.
As part of standardized Blizzard’s requirements, the teams will also have to come up with unique brands based on geographical and cultural factors. In an official tweet, Cloud9 has openly asked their fans for help with naming and branding. On the other side of the globe, the Chinese team clearly relied on history and tradition. Naming themselves as Shanghai Dragons, they are the first officially named and branded Overwatch League team. This is a critical step for all teams, so it’s understandable that no team is rushing with the final decision.
In terms of in-game and community branding and promotional efforts, we already know that team-branded skins will become a thing. Once Overwatch League begins, the game itself will most likely feature a plethora of skins featuring the league in one way or another. If you want a piece of that pie, keep your account in good standing and keep an eye on the marketplace. With this much money being circulated around, the prices are bound to go up eventually.
Make no mistake; Overwatch League is a serious piece of entertainment business. Just how big this whole ordeal is shows the most recent roster reveal. NRG enlisted Jennifer Lopez, Michael Strahan and Marshawn Lynch for their team roster announcement video. The sports and entertainment celebrities have also invested into the NRG Esports, alongside others.
With the amount of interest and publicity it generates, Overwatch League is in a rare position to be on the forefront of next big Esports wave of expansion.