The first seven teams and owners for the Overwatch league were announced by Blizzard today. The list of owners includes Robert Kraft, owner of the 5-time NFL Superbowl champion New England Patriots. Kraft recently bought the rights for a Boston-based Overwatch team. In addition, Jeff Wilpon, the COO of the New York Mets, will be fielding a New York City franchise.
Furthermore, other teams that will draw from major players in the e-sports world, Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals, is investing in a Los Angeles-based team. Ben Spoont, CEO and co-founder of Misfits Gaming, will bring a team to Miami-Orlando. Andy Miller, chairman and and founder of NRG Esports, will run a San Francisco-based team.
Rounding out the first batch of Overwatch league teams and cities, a Shanghai team owned by Blizzard’s Chinese partner NetEase. Also, A Seoul team owned by Kevin Chou, who is the co-founder of Kabam. Blizzard also plans to add other teams and cities over time to expand the seven team roster.
According to an ESPN report, Blizzard is looking for a $20 million per team buy-in from owners with no revenue sharing until 2021. The Overwatch League is a big bet from Blizzard to try and get Overwatch e-sports into the mainstream. The city-based approach is virtually unheard of in other e-sports and the company is really trying to make sure that teams take things seriously. Nate Nanzer, the commissioner of Overwatch League stated, “tying the teams to specific cities is meant to mirror the structure of conventional sports leagues.” These city-based teams is another attempt to bring e-sports into the mainstream.