Blizzard has secured six agreements for participation in the upcoming Overwatch League, according to a report from ESPN. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon are among them.
Teams will be located in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Shanghai, China and Seoul, South Korea, according to the report. The Los Angeles spot will be filled by the esports organization Immortals, and the San Francisco spot will be claimed by NRG Esports for $20 million each. Of the four remaining city spots, the parent company that owns the Patriots, Kraft Sports Group has secured the Boston spot, and the New York location will be operated by the Mets’ majority owner Wilpon and his family.
Immortals was founded by Noah Winston and former Square Enix executive Clinton Foy, and it is funded by Memphis Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan, Machine Shop Ventures, the venture arm for the rock band Linkin Park, and Lionsgate Entertainment. NRG was created by Sacramento Kings co-owners Andrew Miller and Mark Mastrov, and has received investment from traditional sports figures Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez, and Jimmy Rollins.
Kraft had already been linked to an Overwatch League team from a report by Richard Lewis. Blizzard has largely been mum about Overwatch League after much fanfare surrounding its announcement last year. Many esports organizations have voiced their concerns about the uncertain status of Overwatch as an esport, as many teams have continued to pay organizations while few details about Overwatch League — and almost no LAN events — emerged.
Many esports teams have already dropped their Overwatch rosters, such as Ninjas in Pyjamas, Splyce, LDLC, compLexity and Rise Nation, with many expressing concerns about Overwatch League, the lack of information surrounding it and the future of the game as an esport. LDLC in particular blasted Blizzard for its treating of esports organizations. The only recent announcement to come from Blizzard was about compiling a scouting report of potential players, but it appears things are still moving behind the scenes.
UPDATE (1:36 p.m. ET): According to a report by Daily eSports’ Lee Si-woo, an anonymous head coach for a professional team said he heard that a foreign investor acquired the Seoul spot to operate a team in that location. Another anonymous source told Daily eSports that a large scale domestic talent agency has been interested in joining the Overwatch League for some time.
Cover photo courtesy of Blizzard