Blizzard is putting together plans for its ambitious Overwatch esports leagues and there are reports today that the video game company signed on six organizations to participate in its forthcoming esports league.
ESPN reports that Blizzard has secured six interested parties, including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, to set up regional teams. Other participating cities include Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Shanghai, China, and Seoul, South Korea. Each city will all put up teams for Blizzard's competitive Overwatch scene.
Kraft will claim the rights to set up an Overwatch team in Boston, while the Wilpon group will set up an operation in New York. As for LA and San Francisco, those two will be owned and operated by endemic esports operations Immortal and NRG Esports respectively. The prices for these deals were not revealed at this time, although ESPN says that the LA and SF spots went for $20 million, which match previous reports.
Blizzard is still in negotiations to attract more operations, presumably in other cities, ahead of the Overwatch League's late 2017 launch date.
We previously wrote about how Blizzard's Overwatch League faced some problems as a result of its rumored high buy-in cost-reportedly set at $20 million. At the time Kraft was the only group rumored to be in discussions with Blizzard about setting up a franchise. There were talks that Blizzard was purposefully courting non-endemic operations, spurning traditional esports franchises. Blizzard responded to allegations that its prices were driving away franchises by saying that the company was in "active discussions" with many different parties, and was not purposefully driving away endemic esports franchises.
For comparison, a spot to compete in the League of Legends Championship were sold for $1.8 million, a fraction of Blizzard's asking price to participate in the Overwatch League. Blizzard for their part has expressed interest in setting up rather permanent operations, based on local franchises in other major sports leagues like the MLB and NFL.
This story is developing and will be updated accordingly.