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.