Blizzard is no stranger to eSports. Their games are some of the biggest players in the field. But now it looks like Blizzard is taking a big step towards making eSports a well-recognized and respected sport in the world with the Overwatch League, which was announced at BlizzCon today.

So what’s so special about this? The name should tell you. Overwatch League… kind of sounds like National Football League. That’s right this league is going to function in the same way as other professional sports. There are going to be city-based teams. Players will have to tryout for places on those teams. There will be contracts and free agency, set salaries and a reliable schedule.

Nate Nanzer, Blizzard’s director of Overwatch eSports told Polygon, “You typically see fans of esports teams are fans of individual players, and then they kind of stick with that team over time,” Nanzer said. “But we think there’s an opportunity to bring in people who are interested in esports but maybe haven’t engaged much with it by adding that geographic element. If you look at the way that teams make money in traditional sports, a lot of that has to do with local activity. When we think about adding stability to esports and to esports teams, we think localizing esports to some degree by having the city-based teams is going to unlock additional revenue opportunities for teams that don’t exist in today’s esports ecosystem.”

There’s no set date for when the Overwatch League will launch, but it definitely won’t be until late next year.

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Nicole has been playing games her entire life. Now that she's a mom, she's passionate about promoting games as a healthy pastime to other parents around the globe. She has been an editor at IGN, where she launched and hosted the Girlfight podcast. In her spare time (which is not very much, honestly) she enjoys gaming, reading, and writing fiction. Most of the time she’s a mom to a crazy, intelligent, and exhausting little girl.