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The Overwatch League, a Primer

Have you ever been within earshot whilst I ramble on about the upcoming Overwatch League and simply wished I would just shut up? Well, Let me outline exactly what the Overwatch League is and why I’m so excited, so you can be just as excited too! (Or at least pretend to be. Humour me why don’t you?!)

In its essence, the Overwatch league (or simply OWL) is Blizzard’s attempt at combining more traditional sports competition formats into their own eSports scene. It is a season based league made up of 12 city based Overwatch teams. Each team has been established by existing professional eSports teams, or in cases such as the Boston Uprising, by more conventional sports group owners. (In Uprising’s case, the Kraft group who also own the New England Patriots handegg team.)

Earlier this year, Blizzard supplied each team owner with a roster of every Overwatch player that had been in the top 500. This included performance stats, team records and any other data available in order for each team to enlist superstar players from around the world and create the best 12 teams possible in professional Overwatch.

Each player chosen by a team was offered a contract worth a minimum of $50,000 a year, with one player (Sinatraa) confirmed at $150,000. On top of this, each stage of the league offers prize bonuses for teams, in which a minimum of 50% must be divided amongst the players as an addition to their salary. Each team must also provide accommodation for every player, alongside health insurance and other benefits that you may associate with professional sport stars.

Each team has its own logo, uniform and team colours in which to participate with. This will come into effect when spectating matches, much like the recent final stages of the Overwatch World Cup.

The teams are split into two divisions:

Atlantic Division:

Pacific Division:

Boston Uprising

Owner: Kraft Group

Dallas Fuel

Owner: Team Envy

Florida Mayhem

Owner: Misfits

Los Angeles Gladiators

Owner: Kroenke Sports & Entertainment

Houston Outlaws

Owner: OpTic Gaming

Los Angeles Valiant

Owner: Immortals

London Spitfire

Owner: Cloud9

San Francisco Shock

Owner: NRG eSports

New York Excelsior

Owner: Jeff Wilpon

Seoul Dynasty

Owner: Kevin Chou

Philadelphia Fusion

Owner: Comcast Spectacor

Shanghai Dragons

Owner: NetEase

The inaugural season is split into four stages of 5 weeks, where each team play 5 matches within their division and 5 matches from the other division, in an attempt to place as high as possible in their own division’s league table. At the end of the four stages, the top team of each division automatically progresses to the playoffs and are joined by the top 4 teams across all four stages, outside of the division winners. The top two teams from the playoffs move onto the grand finals for the chance to win the Champion title.

The bonuses for performing well total the huge sum of $3.5 Million and are broken down as follows:

Stage Title Match Bonuses:

First Place:
Second Place:
USD $100,000
USD $25,000
Total: USD $500,000 over four stages

Regular Season Placement Bonuses:

First Place:
Second Place:
Third and Fourth Place:
Fifth and Sixth Place:
Seventh and Eighth Place:
Ninth and Tenth Place:
Eleventh and Twelfth Place:
USD $300,000
USD $200,000
USD $150,000
USD $100,000
USD $75,000
USD $50,000
USD $25,000
Total: USD $1.3 million

Championship Playoffs Placement Bonuses:

World Champion:
Runner-up:
Third and Fourth Place:
Fifth and Sixth Place:
USD $1 million
USD $400,000
USD $100,000
USD $50,000
Total: USD $1.7 million

 

The entire initial season will take place at the Blizzard Arena, Los Angeles (I prefer to call it the Blizzard Los Angeles Arena for the BLAA acronym.) However, it has been stated that each team will have a stadium in its own city for future seasons.

This is a huge step forward for eSports as for the first time it will provide both players and teams with the financial stability to focus on playing the best Overwatch possible, as well as showing potential future superstars exactly which steps are necessary to make it big and become a pro player themselves. Not to mention how exciting it is for us, the less skilled observers, to finally have the ability to cheer a local eSports team and follow their progress across a persistent table, generating the same energy and passion as more traditional sports teams. GG Blizzard!

Hopefully I’ve provided you with all the information you would need to follow the Overwatch League inaugural season. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on each team, BLAA and weekly match roundups (Once the season starts, of course!)

-Jammy

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