Blizzard Entertainment and Activision Blizzard announced today the owners of the first seven teams in the new Overwatch League. A previous report named six teams to the league, but today's announcement adds one more. Every team is locally-owned in a specific city around the globe, with the first set of teams being in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, San Francisco, Seoul, and Shanghai.
The full list of team owners includes:
- Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots (Boston)
- Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets (New York)
- Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals (Los Angeles)
- Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando)
- Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports (San Francisco)
- NetEase (Shanghai)
- Kevin Chou, Co-founder of Kabam (Seoul)
The Boston and New York sales indicate that there might be strong support in the Overwatch League from owners of traditional sports teams. New England Patriots' owners Robert Kraft's bid to set up an Overwatch League team in Boston might signal to other NFL, NBA, or MLB team owners that this is a new space to play in.
"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 the press release. "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."
"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," added Mets COO Jeff Wilpon.
For the first season of the Overwatch League, teams will be playing regular-season matches at a Los Angeles arena venue on each Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This will allow teams time to set up local venues for the next season. Each team gets an equal share of league-wide revenues and keeps local revenue generated at home up to a cap, at which point they have to kick in a percentage to the shared revenue pool. In addition, each city team will have the option and license to operate up to five amateur teams in their home territory each year.