Immortals is one of the first seven organizations to be granted an Overwatch League team. Another team will be in Seoul, South Korea, and it was sold to Kevin Chou, an entrepreneur from Silicon Valley. Ookz said in an interview with Slingshot (in Korean and translated to English) that Korean orgs are tepid about the large price tag to acquire an Overwatch League spot.
“Korean enterprises are not as big as North American ones, so it’s hard to spend that much money,” he said. “Korean esports organizations spend an average 2 or 3 billion won (about $1.8 million to $2.8 million) per year on their teams, but the seeding costs 10 times as much. Another thing to consider is that although League of Legends and Overwatch are different games, they’re marketed to the same demographic, so they don’t feel the need to jump in right now if they already have a successful League team.”
The reported $20 million price tag for an Overwatch League slot was initially met with concern from the Korean esports community. For any Korean organization that already operates a strong League of Legends team — such as giants like SK Telecom and KT — justifying a financial investment of that scale would be incredibly difficult.
Concerns regarding Korea’s lack of involvement were also shared by Lunatic-Hai coach, Chae “alwaysoov” Ho-jeong, when he said esports organization in the Korean eSports Association don’t trust Blizzard to run a league of this scale. With a financial wall and an innate lack of trust, it’s no wonder then why Korean orgs aren’t excited to join the Overwatch League.
If that trend continues, what will happen to the professionals in Korea? Korea is still considered the strongest region for Overwatch, and their talents would go wasted if they chose not to play professionally — or chose to play professionally elsewhere. Ookz said that barring expansion of more Korean-based Overwatch League teams, he expects the players to scatter all over the world.
“With only Seoul on the table, the Korean players who don’t want to leave will initially want to stay,” he said. “But a lot of the teams are all overseas right now. I expect between the end of this year and the beginning of next year, a lot players will be moving. Many good players will go overseas.”