January 10, 2018 is a date that signifies a monumental shift in the era of esports history–the equivalent of going from B.C. to A.D.
Today, the first ever major global city-based professional esport league begins with 12 teams competing against each other for the first time in official regular season matches. Welcome Overwatch League.
The league features the best players the world has ever seen and will be competing for teams that went through a rigorous vetting process in order to be one of the original 12. Not only are these teams owned by some of the most prestigious esports organizations, but incredibly successful traditional sports franchises as well when factoring in the Kraft Group (New England Patriots), Jeff Wilpon (New York Mets), NRG Esports (Andy Miller and the Sacramento Kings), Neil Leibman (Texas Rangers), Stan and Josh Kroenke (Los Angeles Rams and more). The league is stacked with owners that not only know sports, but come with a business acumen second to none.
“The Overwatch League was created to deliver an awesome and unique experience for players, teams, and fans,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “With 12 first-class teams representing major cities from Asia, Europe, and North America, we’re confident that the inaugural season of the league is going to redefine what people expect from esports—and be a giant celebration of the Overwatch community as a whole.”
The Overwatch community also will have other opportunities to get in on the fun around the league. Overwatch League team uniform purchases have been announced are now available as in-game skins. And it gets better. Players who log in between now and February 13, 2018, will receive enough League Tokens to obtain a team uniform of their choice. Skins are available for all 12 teams, and all 26 Overwatch characters, with 50% of the revenue from every Overwatch League skin sold going toward a shared revenue pool for all league teams.
The Overwatch League will be one of the most widely streamed esports in history after Twitch acquired the broadcasting rights to the league for just over $90 million dollars. The Overwatch League will be broadcast on Twitch, in addition to OverwatchLeague.com, MLG.com, the MLG app, and the new Overwatch League companion app.
Additionally, ZhanQi TV, NetEase CC, and Panda TV are expected to be the official broadcasting platforms of the Overwatch League in China, providing livestreams, VODs, feature programs, and other exciting esports content to Chinese audiences. This will in conjunction with streams that will be broadcast in both Korean and French as well.
“Connecting and engaging the world through epic entertainment is our mission,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “The launch of the Overwatch League will provide our very best professional players the chance to inspire our engaged, connected audiences around the world. January 10th is an historic day for esports and we are so grateful to our team owners, our media partners, our sponsors, and most of all our players for their pivotal role in the establishment of the Overwatch League.”
Inaugural 12 Teams
- Boston Uprising (Kraft Group)
- Dallas Fuel (Team Envy)
- Florida Mayhem (Misfits)
- Houston Outlaws (OpTic Gaming)
- London Spitfire (Cloud9)
- Los Angeles Gladiators (Stan and Josh Kroenke)
- Los Angeles Valiant (Immortals)
- New York Excelsior (Jeff Wilpon and SterlingVC)
- Philadelphia Fusion (Comcast Spectacor)
- San Francisco Shock (NRG eSports)
- Seoul Dynasty (Kevin Chou)
- Shanghai Dragons (NetEase)
Stage 1 Matches
Wednesday, January 10
4:00 PM San Francisco Shock vs. Los Angeles Valiant
6:00 PM Shanghai Dragons vs. Los Angeles Gladiators
8:00 PM Dallas Fuel vs. Seoul Dynasty
Thursday, January 11
2:00 PM London Spitfire vs. Florida Mayhem
4:00 PM Philadelphia Fusion vs. Houston Outlaws
6:00 PM Boston Uprising vs. New York Excelsior
Friday, January 12
4:00 PM Los Angeles Valiant vs. Dallas Fuel
6:00 PM Florida Mayhem vs. Boston Uprising
8:00 PM San Francisco Shock vs. Shanghai Dragons
Saturday, January 13
11:00 AM London Spitfire vs. Philadelphia Fusion
1:00 PM New York Excelsior vs. Houston Outlaws
3:00 PM Seoul Dynasty vs. Los Angeles Gladiators
The first season of the Overwatch League will run until June, with playoffs and finals scheduled for July. For the inaugural season, all games will take place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, a state-of-the-art live-event venue in Burbank, California, custom-renovated for Blizzard Entertainment esports events. Fans can purchase tickets to attend matches, which will be played each Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. A full schedule and information about ticket sales can be found at https://overwatchleague.com/.