Esports has been in the making for quite a while now but it reached the pinnacle of success with the opening of the "Overwatch" League. The League was introduced to the world on January 10 with three matches between teams that represent countries from around the world.
The new league is structured similar to all of the major sports leagues, with divisions, playoffs, and a proposed all-star match. The reason for the similarities to leagues like the NBA and NHL is because the executives running the league hail from those traditional sports. They hope to use their expertise to transfer the success of those leagues to the exploding world of esports.
Watch this video to see highlights from the match between the Dallas Fuel and Seoul Dynasty.
The league is (sorta) international
The "Overwatch" league has 12 franchises. They have some pretty cool names like Seoul Dynasty, Dallas Fuel, and Shanghai Dragons. However, according to the New York Times, they are all based in Los Angeles, and the one European team has American owners.
The league pays real money and has real benefits
The players earn $50,000 a year and can also earn a chunk of money from a $3.5 million prize money pot. They also earn retirement benefits, which is a sign the investors expect the sport to thrive and have long-term players. How much potential the players have to earn will have to be seen after the first few seasons. There are six players per team during competition, but some have larger rosters.
There are real sports investors backing the league
The Los Angeles Gladiators are owned by the same owner of the Los Angeles Rams, Stan Kroenke. They eventually expect to be training in the new Los Angeles Rams stadium, expected to be finished in 2020.
The owner of the New England Patriots owns the Boston Uprising, and they are expected to eventually train in the same facilities as the football team. The San Francisco Shock are owned by celebrities Jennifer Lopez, Shaquille O'Neal, and others.
There are already major corporate sponsors
Unlike many other sports leagues that started and failed in the past, the "Overwatch" League has many corporate owners and investors. HP and Intel are sponsors of the new league, and the Dallas Fuel sport the Jack in the Box logo on their uniforms. Comcast Spectacor owns the Philadelphia Fusion and the New York Excelsior are owned by a venture capital fund.
You’ll be able to watch the competitions online
The league signed a two-year streaming deal with Amazon’s Twitch channel. The deal is reported to be worth $90 million.
The fanbase for the emerging league tends to be millennials and younger. So, don’t be shocked if next Christmas you start seeing requests for gear from teams like the Los Angeles Valiant or the London Spitfire.