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Sports and tech pros own the first seven Overwatch League teams

Sports and tech pros own the first seven Overwatch League teams
From Engadget - July 12, 2017

The city-based structure is central to Blizzard's plans for a self-sustaining, lucrative eSports league built around Overwatch. Right now, the professional Overwatch scene is crumbling -- teams pulled out of negotiations with Blizzard in a fairly public fashion earlier this year, citing disorganization, too few competitions and high buy-in costs for the new league. And Overwatch may be the most visible eSport on television with the ELEAGUE tournament on TBS, but professional gaming as a whole still lacks oversight and coordination, at least in the western world.

Overwatch League is an attempt to help stabilize the eSports market, and it's doing so by mimicking a system that's proven to work: city-based sports leagues.

"Traditional sports teams create a significant amount of revenue based on the fact that they get to host home games, and they sell tickets and local sponsorships in an exclusive home marketing territory," Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer says. "That's revenue that just did not exist in eSports, so we think through the structure that we have created, these city-based teams, we are going to unlock a lot of value for team owners and players and fans."

In order to sell eSports tickets, cities will need eSports venues. Blizzard wants to see gaming arenas in every Overwatch League city, and it's already gotten started, opening the first-ever Blizzard eStadium in Taipei, Taiwan, earlier this year.

"The goal here is that, over time, we will have teams in all the major cities around the world and there will be an arena, a stadium, a studio -- whatever the form is -- where fans from that city, and frankly fans from all over the world, will be able to travel and watch Overwatch played at the highest level," Nanzer says.

Overwatch League is the first international, city-based program in the eSports world, but Blizzard is not fighting for the industry's maturity alone.

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