After months of uncertainty, Blizzard made an official and tangible step forward in Overwatch League on Tuesday by announcing the first seven owners and cities that will compete.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will own the Boston spot. New York Mets owner Jeff Wilpon will own the New York slot. Misfits CEO Ben Spoont will own the Miami-Orlando spot. Immortals CEO Noah Whinston will own the Los Angeles spot. NRG co-owner Andy Miller will own the San Francisco spot. Kevin Chou, co-founder of Kabam, will own the spot in Seoul, South Korea, and NetEase will own the spot in Shanghai, China.
“It’s an honor to be selected as one of the ownership groups in the inaugural season of this new league,” Wilpon said in a release. “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.”
Until this point, details about the Overwatch League had been few and far between. The league was announced late last year to much fanfare, but Blizzard went mostly quiet. The league was originally slated to launch by the third quarter of this year, and that seems unlikely, though Blizzard reaffirmed in the release that the league will start later this year.
The announcement comes a week after an ESPN report about six teams agreeing to slots in the Overwatch League, including a price of $20 million for the Los Angeles and San Francisco slots. Richard Lewis later reported that some traditional sports organizations were hesitant to commit to Overwatch League because of many concerns, including the idea Blizzard might try to launch a franchised Call of Duty league.
Blizzard had stayed mostly mum about Overwatch League. It announced Overwatch Contenders, a league designed to act as a development pool of sorts for OWL, and the Overwatch Open Division. It also announced it would compile a scouting report of possible Overwatch League players.
But this is the first tangible public advancement of the league, and it comes after many esports organizations — such as Splyce, compLexity, Rise Nation and Ninjas in Pyjamas — released their Overwatch teams, many of them citing uncertainty about Overwatch League. LDLC blasted Blizzard’s management of the game upon dropping its team, and the coach of Lunatic-Hai, the best team in the world, said Korean teams don’t trust Blizzard.
Cover photo courtesy of Blizzard