At Blizzcon 2016, Blizzard made a huge announcement: An official Overwatch League will be formed. This announcement has made 2017 one of the most exciting years in Esports history, and surely one of the most vital times in Blizzard’s own Esports history as well.
We know that the Overwatch League is something that a lot of our readers are super excited about. Apart from all the usual Overwatch news and plugging for Overwatch boosting that we do for our partners.
The Overwatch League is a huge undertaking, and it inspires confidence in the promising future of Overwatch. This puts the game right up there with some of the most popular and competitive games in the world, like League of Legends. It is even on par with traditional sports leagues like the NBA or NHL. The logo of the Overwatch League is even designed in a similar fashion, as an homage to the traditional style of sports, and the passion for it that players and fans alike will always have.
So, what is the Overwatch League all about? Resources and information sources have been dropping like bombs since mid-July, making us all the more excited about the future of Overwatch. Here you’ll find a thorough overview of the Overwatch League’s main features as well as an outlook about its competitive scene.
When Does the Overwatch League Begin?
There has been so much buzz about the league, but still no official start date for its launch. Blizzard has been vague about any legitimate dates, promising only that the league will begin sometime in 2017. In late 2016, Mike Morhaime, the CEO and co-founder of Blizzard, did drop a small hint, saying that the first combined event would happen sometime this year. At the event, potential Overwatch League participants are to show off their teams and reach out to prospective players.
But this was paired with the promise that Blizzard would soon “start” the process of franchising and choosing official teams. If the Overwatch League is to begin in 2017, it may be too late to start the process now. But we can hold out hope that it will all be coming together later this year.
Overwatch League Activity
The Overwatch League, also known as OWL, did start a pre-launch event earlier this year, in June. The Overwatch Contenders tournament, also known as the “season zero” tournament, was a small competition that we suspect was meant for them to get their feelers out and get a sense for what the competitive league world will be like.
Sometime this month, in August, there is promised the beginning of Season One. Blizzard has plans for at least two divisions: American and European. There will be plentiful competitions and, of course, a nice portion of prize money involved.
Prospective League Teams
Activity on the OWL has sparked up the past couple of weeks. Blizzard has officially announced seven of the teams that will participate in this Overwatch League when Season One begins. For a list of cities and team owners, see the list below:
· Seoul: Kevin Chou ( Kabam)
· Los Angeles: Noah Whinston (Immortals)
· Boston: Robert Kraft (New England Patriots)
· San Francisco: Andy Miller (Founder of NRG Esports)
· New York: Jeff Wilpon (New York Mets)
· Shanghai, China: NetEase
· Orlando and Miami: Ben Spoont (Misfits Gaming)
While there have not been official player rosters announced yet, Blizzard has set some official rules as a precedent for the formation of new teams. For example, the rosters may only contain between 6 and 12 players. The teams themselves will provide the housing and training buildings for each player, although Blizzard will set the standard for housing requirements as well as for practice and training time. Also, there will be no region locks in terms of employment, with the exception of Koreans. This means that most players (except Koreans) can be employed at any league in any city or country.
Overwatch League Perspectives
For all Overwatch League pro player hopefuls, fret not, we understand that the road to becoming a professional Overwatch player is a long and tough one, but there might be some ways for you to fast track your route such as getting some Overwatch coaching! Have you considered that learning to play the game from experienced and better players might result in faster improvement?
Moving on, the involvement of traditional sports owners and managers, such as Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, is a huge testament to the growing popularity and validity of Esports as an emerging sports scene.
Mainstream involvement is the key to a successful beginning, and all of the stars point in the OWL’s favor. In fact, Blizzard has used the structure of traditional sports teams as a foundation for how they want the Overwatch League to be run. This is what will highlight the big differences between OWL and something like LCS, which is more region-affiliated rather than city-affiliated. Blizzard has the chance to franchise each team per city, rallying loyalty just like a traditional football or baseball league wood. This has garnered much excitement for what’s to come with Overwatch and for the future of all Esports. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements about the official Overwatch League!