Overwatch League has secured agreements with some high-profile investors for seven cities, according to an announcement from Activision Blizzard.
On Wednesday, Activision Blizzard revealed that seven cities have established teams in the Overwatch League, an upstart esports circuit. Backing those teams are some high-profile names, including Robert Kraft–owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots and MLS’ New England Revolution–as well as Jeff Wilpon, the COO of MLB’s New York Mets.
The reported involvement of Kraft and Wilpon, who will respectively represent Boston and New York, was covered here earlier this week. Additional investors will include Immortals CEO Noah Whinston (Los Angeles), Misfits Gaming CEO and Co-Founder Ben Spoont (Miami-Orlando), NRG Esports chairman and founder Andy Miller (San Francisco), NetEase (Shanghai), and Kabam co-founder Kevin Chou (Seoul).
Kraft and Wilpon are not the only names on that list with a background in major sports, as Miller is a co-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. In addition, Spoont’s organization–Misfits–has a partnership with the NBA’s Miami Heat.
When the first season begins later this year, the teams will compete on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at a Los Angeles-area esports arena, thus allowing time for venues to be established in other cities for later seasons. In the meantime, the Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer anticipates additional growth, and says more owners could be announced in the future. More from Mashable:
“Our goal is to launch a global league and that means having teams in all the major cities around the world,” Nanzer said. “We’re in active conversations with potential owners for cities in Europe, Latin America, other regions, and hope to have more details on that in the coming months.”
Blizzard isn’t just taking the highest bidders; they’re making sure that owners have the ability to build a team and a following.
“It was really important to us that we find owners that had a proven capability of building a fanbase and growing and fostering fandom,” Nanzer said, noting that the team owners announced today fit this criteria. “It’s a great mix of owners, a great mix of expertise. One of the things that’s really exciting for us at Blizzard is bringing all these great minds to the table to help build this league collaboratively with our owners.”
The announcement also gave Overwatch League team owners a chance to explain their involvement in the circuit. “We have been exploring the esports market for a number of years and have been waiting for the right opportunity to enter,” said Kraft in a statement. “The incredible global success of Overwatch since its launch, coupled with the League’s meticulous focus on a structure and strategy that clearly represents the future of esports made this the obvious entry point for the Kraft Group.”
“It’s an honor to be selected as one of the ownership groups in the inaugural season of this new league,” Wilpon said in a statement. “We view our participation in the Overwatch League as a major opportunity to take a lead position where technology is converging with sports and media. This partnership with the Overwatch League and with some of the elite ownership groups in professional sports, offers a unique opportunity to connect with millions of dedicated fans, engaged and passionate about one of the world’s fastest growing sports, and to continue proudly representing New York.”
The Overwatch League is being billed as the first major global esports circuit to operate under a cities-based format. A full schedule will be announced at a later date.
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