If your kid isn’t especially athletic but loves playing video games, Super League Gaming may be just the thing. “The youth sports experience for gamers” is now in 16 cities nationwide, and City Champs Season 3 commences in April.
Anyone who’s still rolling their eyes at esports hasn’t been paying attention to the numbers, and numbers don’t lie. The Overwatch League kicked off its season last week at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles, California. The week of competition lasted four days between the 12 global teams, resulting in sold-out physical tickets as well as more than 10 million viewers between Twitch, Major League Gaming, and Chinese streaming services.
“Since we announced Overwatch League at BlizzCon 2016, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the day when the global competitive Overwatch community could come together under one banner,” said Nate Nanzer, Overwatch League commissioner. “Opening week was that coming-out party for the fans, both in-person at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and tuned in by the millions all over the world, and for the players, whose love for the game came through crystal clear.”
Opening day alone drew an average audience-per-minute ratio of 408,000, with the highly anticipated matchup between the Dallas Fuel and the Seoul Dynasty. Viewership averaged to 280,000 throughout the weekend.
The Overwatch League recently announced an exclusive two-year deal with Twitch as its broadcasting partner. “We had high expectations for the inaugural broadcast of the Overwatch League on Twitch, given our platform’s passionate fanbase for Overwatch,” said Kevin Lin, COO of Twitch. “They really put on an amazing show and fans showed up en masse to support and celebrate Overwatch. Based on the response from the community, Overwatch League is off to a great start and we look forward to watching how the season progresses. This league demonstrates the power and potential of esports, and we’re thrilled to continue expanding our partnership with Blizzard.”
The first season of the Overwatch League will continue through June, with playoffs starting in July. Games are typically played from Wednesday to Saturday. You can see the full schedule here. Note for this first season all games will be played at the Blizzard Arena in Lost Angeles while the other teams build their home venues.
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The Overwatch League could be the next big thing in the exploding popularity of esports. Activision Blizzard has announced its first seven team owners, focusing on experienced business owners around the world who are familiar with sports and/or esports.
The first team owners for the Overwatch League are:
- Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots (Boston)
- Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets (New York)
- Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals (Los Angeles)
- Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando)
- Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports (San Francisco)
- NetEase (Shanghai)
- Kevin Chou, Co-founder of Kabam (Seoul)
“Overwatch is a game about a diverse group of international heroes who fight for an optimistic vision of the future, and the Overwatch League is an extension of that spirit,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re building this league for fans – esports fans, traditional sports fans, gaming fans – and we’re thrilled to have individuals and organizations who are as passionate about professional competition as we are, and who have extensive experience in all three fields, representing our first major international cities in the league.”
Purchasing an Overwatch team for the League is rumored to be very pricey. Team owners will receive advertising, ticketing, and broadcast rights revenue, as well as an equal share of league-wide revenue. Individual teams can generate local revenue in their home territory, and can monetize up to five amateur events each year.
“Misfits Gaming is thrilled to join the Overwatch League and represent the great cities of Miami and Orlando,” said Misfits Gaming CEO and Co-Founder Ben Spoont. “Competing as part of a major city-based esports league is something we’ve always wanted to do, and together with our partner the Miami Heat we’re very excited by the potential to build something amazing for our fans in the months and years ahead. This is going to be a great experience for teams and everyone who loves esports.”
The Overwatch League is the first major esports league with a focus on city-based ownership and branding. The inaugural season debuts this fall. Regular season matches will take place at a special arena in Lost Angeles. Future seasons are planned for structured home and away games as owners develop their own arenas.
Overwatch matches will be played each week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The official schedule and tickets to live games will be announced at a later date.
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