Blizzard Takes Steps Towards Commencement of the Overwatch League

By in Esports on

The Overwatch league was first announced at Blizzcon 2016. Following the announcement, however, there has been no progress on the League itself. It seems Blizzard is finally taking the first steps towards the commencement of the Overwatch League. Blizzard has announced the official twitter handle and Facebook page for Overwatch League. This will set in motion a chain of announcements and advertisement for the biggest structured esports league.

The Announcement

On the 4th of November 2016, Blizzard surprised the world when it announced the Overwatch League. It was seen as a revolutionary league that will change the esports ecosystem once and for all. Any move to structure esports is a welcome move for the interested parties. It provides them with a means to enter esports and understand the risks that go along with it. The Overwatch League aimed to lure the big sports organizations to invest into Overwatch.

Features

The Overwatch League promises a lot of features and security for players and organizations alike. One of the biggest points of interest for an organization looking to invest in the Overwatch League was the permanent slot being offered. There were several other features which were mentioned as well such as;

  • City Based Teams
  • Player Contracts
  • Player Combine
  • Fantasy Drafts
  • Dedicated website

The Player Combine was announced by Blizzard on May 21st. Named as the Overwatch Contenders, this league will form as the stepping stone towards the Overwatch League. Amateur players can form teams and participate in the event, which will be watched by Scouting teams for potential recruits.

overwatch contenders

Blizzard is excited to announce Overwatch Contenders—the development league for aspiring Overwatch League professionals, kicking off this summer in North America and Europe. Over the first year of organized Overwatch competition, we’ve seen an incredible exhibition of skill at Overwatch APEX in South Korea, the Overwatch Pacific Championship in the Asia-Pacific region, and the Overwatch Premier Series in China. It’s time to bring that level of competition to the West.

However, apart from the Overwatch Contenders, there has been no communication from Blizzard regarding the status of the Overwatch League. The Overwatch Community has been desperate for more news about the OWL which is considered to be a big part of the Overwatch esports in the future.

Over the past few months,we have seen several esports teams leave the Overwatch esports scene. A short but incomplete list of the teams who have exited the scene are:

  • Rhinos Gaming Wings
  • BK Stars
  • Might Storm
  • E-home
  • Dignitas
  • Complexity Gaming
  • G2 esports
  • SK Gaming
  • NIP
  • Movistar Riders

There are several more teams who have dropped their teams and exited the Overwatch scene altogether. The reasons range from lack of LAN Events, no communication from Blizzard about the esports scene and a general lack of viewership in Overwatch. With so many teams exiting the scene, there have been hardly any teams joining the scene or picking up rosters. This has led to a very negative outlook about competitive Overwatch. Hopefully, the next few months should be able to bring back the confidence in Overwatch as an esport.

Overwatch League Goes Social

overwatch league the path to glory

Blizzard has just formed the Twitter and Facebook account for Overwatch League. This is the first step towards creating a social media presence for the league. There will be big advertising campaigns and announcements which will be featured on these social media platforms.

The links to their official Twitter and Facebook accounts are given below.

These social accounts have not made any announcements as of yet, however, it is widely expected that Blizzard will announce more details soon.

Team Names to be Announced Soon

Overwatch League will announce the 6 teams tomorrow if a tweet by ESPN reporter Jacob Wolf is to be believed. This is by far the most information we have had about the Overwatch League in several months. It should also set in motion a series of actions taken by the team and Blizzard to improve the excitement and the preparation for the Overwatch league. ESPN has reported that New York Mets and New England Patriots will be two of the organizations investing into the Overwatch League.

Patriots Logo
Mets Logo

There will be six teams in the inaugural season of Overwatch League. These six teams will be tied to six cities which are Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Shanghai, and Seoul. The buy-in for Los Angeles based Immortals and San Francisco based NRG is $20 million dollars, which is supposedly the higher end of the franchise prices.

With subsequent seasons, Overwatch League will expand. It is said to have a total of 28 teams in the current expansion plans. These will include cities from all over the world and will attempt to form a global league.

Problems

The Overwatch League planning has come with its fair share of problems. These problems have not been solved and that has led to a limbo in the growth of Overwatch as an esport. Prominent among them is the viewing experience of an Overwatch match. MonteCristo has confirmed that Blizzard is working on revamping the viewing experience for Overwatch.

Low Viewership Numbers

Overwatch League suffers from low viewership numbers compared to the big three esports in the market currently. A comparison between Overwatch and League of Legends presents the big differences in viewership numbers for the two.

Overwatch Viewers
League of Legends Viewers

Admittedly Overwatch is still relatively a new game, but the lack of support for LAN events by Blizzard has also definitely contributed to hurting the scene. As you can see in the images above, Overwatch has an average of around 35,000 viewers as opposed to around 110,000 average viewership numbers for League of Legends.

Finances

According to multiple sources, Blizzard is seeking a $20 million buy-in from prospective owners, with no revenue sharing until 2021 and a 25 percent fee, paid to Blizzard, if they sell the spot at a later date.

This high cost for the Overwatch League is a big roadblock for prospective buyers. Such big numbers are unheard of in esports, especially for a game with such small viewership numbers. On the other end of the spectrum is Riot esports who have come up with a $10 million buy-in for their franchises. The Riot buy-in has generated a lot of interest amongst the prospective investors as League of Legends is already a tried and tested successful esport.

There have been reports of teams hesitating to buy into Overwatch League. While the game and the league itself are exciting for the investors, the price seems to be the biggest obstacle. But with Overwatch league rumored to announce the teams soon, it seems all the problems regarding the financials have been solved.

Overwatch League is Delayed

The original plan for Overwatch League was to commence in Quarter 3 of 2017. However, a new report by SportsbusinessDaily suggests that Overwatch League will start in December of 2017. This has been partly due to delays in signing new teams. The delay coupled with the gloomy outlook for the Overwatch League has led to a very negative view for Overwatch League amongst its players. Of course, without any facts to base this on, these gloomy predictions don’t have much value.

Overwatch Has the Numbers

All is not gloom for Overwatch. It is still in the planning stage and with the experience of big organizations coming into the league, we are in for a bright future. Overwatch has the biggest resource on its side, the players. Overwatch crossed 30 million players and that is a big achievement.

We look forward to more details about the Overwatch League and hope it will be a resounding success.

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