- Blizzard Entertainment
It looks like some big names from the world of sports are going to be involved in the upcoming Overwatch League.
ESPN is reporting that Blizzard Entertainment has secured agreements from both Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Mets owner Fred Wilpon on their intent to participate in the new e-sports league. The story also went on to note that Overwatch League has come to agreements with ownership groups for all six teams that will be active when the league debuts.
For its initial season, teams will be located in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Shanghai, and Seoul, South Korea, with Kraft tied to the Boston team and Wilpon leading the New York franchise. The two California-based franchises will be led by two already established e-sports teams – Immortals and NRG Esports.
Immortals, who will take charge of the Los Angeles team, was founded in 2015 and has a roster of investors that includes Memphis Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan, rock band Linkin Park’s venture capital fund Machine Shop Ventures, and Lionsgate Entertainment. Another sponsor of theirs just announced in June, AEG, runs the L.A. Live entertainment complex which will serve as the team’s home base.
NRG Esports also has ties to the sporting world. Founded by Sacramento Kings co-owners Andrew Miller and Mark Mastrov in late 2015, the team has since brought in investments from Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez, and Jimmy Rollins. ESPN is reporting that both NRG and Immortals bought into the Overwatch League for $20 million per spot.
The e-sports space is growing rapidly and it’s no surprise that those close to the sports world would want to get in on the potential investment early. In League of Legends, Counter-Strike, and DOTA2, competitive e-sport events are already being held annually with millions of dollars in winnings on the line. Blizzard’s Overwatch League could mark a big push for the legitimacy of e-sports into more mainstream coverage.
Just a year old, Overwatch already has over 30 million players worldwide, and has already established an impressive competitive culture. If the game figures out a way to become more spectator-friendly, it could potentially become one of the biggest draws in e-sports.