Introducing the Overwatch League

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 at 5:32 PM
Introducing the Overwatch League by Britton Rozzelle

This January, 12 teams will step into the ring of a new professional esport. Welcome to the Overwatch League.

Announced officially this past week at Blizzcon 2017, Blizzard Entertainment will be working with teams in two divisions — Atlantic and Pacific — as part of their new initiative to support “Overwatch,” a game with over 20 million regular players.

“The Overwatch League represents not only the pinnacle of Overwatch competition, but also a genuine career opportunity for the most skilled Overwatch players,” said Mike Morhaime, the CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment in a press release sent out following the announcement.

“We’re building a league that’s accessible to players and fans, sustainable and exciting for everyone involved.”

Representing teams from across the coasts of America, the United Kingdom, Seoul and Shanghai and featuring players from all over the world, the Overwatch League looks to provide a new outlet for the esports community that links with professional sports. Many of the teams, like the Philadelphia Fusion, Boston Uprising and Los Angeles Gladiators are owned by the same companies that manage the respective sports teams of those cities — Comcast Spectacor, Kraft Group and Kroenke Sports.

Both HP Inc. and Intel have signed on to the league as sponsors, allowing players on all teams to be equipped with OMEN by HP PCs and displays crafted specifically for Overwatch League matches.

“For more than 12 years Intel has consistently supported the esports community and we’re always looking for ways to help improve how they play, watch and compete,” John Bonini, vice president and general manager of Intel, said. “The Overwatch League will be a great showcase for esports, and we’re excited to be a part of it with Blizzard.”

After its announcement, fans took to social media to pledge their allegiances to each team. At time of writing, the Houston Outlaws stand out with 27,500 fans on social media in the Atlantic division, while the San Francisco Shock towers over the rest with 87,500 on the Pacific side.

With the support of professional players, die-hard fans and a streaming platform geared towards mass streaming, the Overwatch League might just be the next big thing for esports.

You can check out the first preseason matches starting Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. with a match between the Florida Mayhem and Philadelphia Fusion. Season one officially begins Jan. 10, 2018 and will be available through streaming service Twitch, along with Blizzard’s official esports portal.

Britton Rozzelle can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com. 

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