Overwatch Gets Pro League With City Franchises

Blizzard has announced seven teams for a city-based Overwatch league. The NFL-franchise style league will include owners from sports and business.

Unlike most North American sport leagues, the franchised teams will cover the globe, with the initial teams being in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami/Orlando, New York, San Francisco, Seoul and Shanghai. The plan is to add other teams, but there’s no fixed schedule or numbers. The new owners have reportedly agreed a $20 million franchise fee, though it won’t all be paid up front.

The first league seasons starts later this year and all matches will be based in LA. In future seasons, each team will operate out of an arena in its cities, with the same home and away matchups as in traditional sports. The plan is to run in venues with a capacity of 3,000 to 6,000.

For the most part the games will be based on standard Overwatch as played by the public, though new content such as maps won’t be used right away in the league.

Money that’s brought in by the league as a whole, such as sponsorship and media rights will be split across the teams. Each team will keep any money from local ticket sales up to a cap, above which any extra goes into the collective pot, plus the teams will be able to run up to five “amateur” events in their area each year and keep all the proceeds.

There’ll also be virtual items based on teams for the public to buy in the game itself. Each team will get half the revenue for their respective items, with the rest going into the pot. There’ll also be “meaningful” prize money for league winners.

Some big players are among the early franchisees. The Boston team is owned by Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, while the New York Team is owned by Met’s COO Jeff Wilpon. Other owners include professional e-sports companies including Ben Spoont of Misfits Gaming (Miami/Orlando) and Andy Miller of NRG Esports (San Francisco.) The Seoul team owners is Kevin Chou of the freemium mobile game company Kabam.