Blizzard recently announced the first seven teams and owners for its Overwatch league. Owners include: Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots; the five-time NFL Superbowl champions, Kraft, who’ve bought the rights for a Boston-based Overwatch team; and Jeff Wilpon, the COO of the New York Mets, who will be fielding a New York City franchise.
Other teams will draw from major players in the eSports world. Some of these include Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals, who is investing in a Los Angeles team; Ben Spoont, CEO and co-founder of Misfits Gaming, will bring a team to Miami-Orlando; and Andy Miller, chairman and founder of NRG eSports, will run a San Francisco-based team. Lastly, there’s a Shanghai team owned by Blizzard’s Chinese partner NetEase, and a Seoul team owned by Kevin Chou. Blizzard also plans to add other teams and cities over time beyond these first seven teams.
According to an ESPN report, Blizzard is looking for a $20 million per team buy-in from owners, with no revenue sharing until 2021. With the Overwatch League, Blizzard is making a big bet to try to get Overwatch eSports into the mainstream. The city-based approach is virtually unheard of in eSports however, so Blizzard is really trying to make sure that teams take things seriously.
According to Nate Nanzer, commissioner of Overwatch League, tying the teams to specific cities is meant to mirror conventional sports. He states that “We did a lot of research into traditional sports, and how do traditional sports teams make money, and what we saw is that in traditional sports teams make money because they have a venue and host home games and sell tickets and merchandise and all that, and that’s completely missing from eSports.”