Not-for-profit organization The British Esports Association partnered with Westminster City Council and DinoPC for a free two-hour after-school program. The pilot program was an esports training club featuring Rocket League. The…
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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It was the year of absolution for UT Arlington. After a close loss to Arizona State in the Heroes of the Dorm Grand Finals last year, UT Arlington coasted to an astonishing 29-0 record to take the championship title on April 8. The UT Arlington “HOTD” defeated LSU “Pick Rick” by winning three matches in the final Best of Five. All six team members (five players plus an alternate) will win free college tuition.
“Congratulations to the 2017 Heroes of the Dorm, UT Arlington, for an awesome run through this year’s tournament,” says Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard. “The teams competing represent the future of competitive gaming, and it’s been a thrill seeing them in action. We appreciate all the students and college sports fans who participated in this year’s competition, and we’re looking forward to even more Heroes of the Storm esports leading up to BlizzCon this November.”
UT Arlington maintained their unprecedented undefeated run all the way to the finals. Early takedowns would bolster their attacks and keep their foes constantly reeling. The University tweeted out their support:
— UT Arlington (@utarlington) April 9, 2017
Team captain Yusuf “Kure” Sunka mentioned that they want to move forward as a team into professional esports, like many members of last year’s winning ASU team. “All of us want to continue going forward as a team and see what we can do off the momentum of this win,” says Sunka. “We’re looking to keep maturing as a team, and this is only a first step for us.”
Heroes of the Dorm is a fun competition based on one of my favorite games of the last few years. But this year’s Heroic Four and Grand Finals fell a bit flat. Nearly every match was a decisive, one-sided victory. Both matches in the Heroic Four ended 2-0 (Best of Three), and the Grand Finals ended 3-0 (Best of Five). UT Arlington was the clear favorite from the very beginning. I’m glad they got their win, but I hope next year’s tournament is a bit more competitive.
This Saturday, April 8, the four best teams from the North American collegiate tournament Heroes of the Dorm will face off in the championship. The four teams will travel to the University of Nevada and play live in front of a crowd of hundreds of fans. If you’re not jetting out to Las Vegas, you can watch the action live via Facebook. The Heroic Four begins at 1 pm Pacific/4 pm Eastern.
From the initial pool of 200, then a giant 64-team bracket, four teams have emerged. UT Arlington is favored to win it all as the best college team in the country. They made it all the way to the championship last year, only to lose to Arizona State. They are the only team in the Heroic Four still undefeated in qualifying matches and the tournament.
The other three teams are new to the Heroic Four: LSU, UC Irvine, and Kentucky. UC Irvine and LSU are number 1 and 2 seeds from their groups respectively. The University of California at Irvine was one of the first colleges to build a scholarship program around esports. Kentucky is the plucky underdog as a #13 seed, with only 1.69% of brackets predicting the team to win the championship.
Fun fact: The Kentucky team is made up entirely of two families, two sets of three brothers!
The Heroic Four will pit LSU against Kentucky, and UTA against UCI. The Heroic Four matches will continue the Best of 3 tournament style. The Grand Finals will air directly afterward between the last two remaining teams and will be a Best of 5 match.
I may be slightly biased as UTA is my wife’s alma mater but GO UTA!