First announced during Blizzcon in November 2016, Overwatch League is expected to begin its inaugural season later this year. Details, however, have been scarce outside of leaks and rumors, but Eurogamer is now reporting that the league will allow team owners to purchase exclusive rights to the cities they call home.
“I think one of the key differences in our structure is the local opportunity,” Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer explained. “There really hasn’t been a city-based, global league in this way. Not just in esports, but in traditional sports too, there hasn’t ever really been a league where Los Angeles plays Shanghai in the regular season.”
While traditional sports do have teams call individual cities or regions home, those teams do sometimes uproot and move to other cities or regions. Further, some cities are occupied by more than one team in the same league such as baseball’s Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.
Further, although some American sports leagues like the NFL have experimented with playing games overseas, they have done so by sending a pair of American teams to play each other in foreign countries rather than having an American team play a foreign one.
It’s also, as Nanzer mentioned, a new concept for esports. It’s not a complete surprise, though, considering last week’s report that Overwatch League would open with six teams located in different cities across America and Asia.
Nanzer also confirmed previous reports that some of the first teams would be Los Angeles-based Immortals, Miami-Orlando-based Misfits Gaming, and San Francisco-based NRG Esports. These esports teams will be joined by traditional sports owners Robert Kraft and Jeff Wilpon’s teams in Boston and New York, respectively.
“I’m happy to announce that we have three endemic teams to reveal today, despite the fact that the internet says we don’t talk to endemics,” said Nanzer. “Obviously we’re also very excited about the traditional sports owners because they bring a lot of incredible history to the table: building generational fandom around their teams and great local expertise, which is important for our city-based, home and away structure.”
Overwatch League does not yet have a date for its inaugural match, and Blizzard’s silence on its plans since last November had some observers, like Eurogamer, concerned. Nanzer waved those concerns away, stating that Blizzard was just waiting until it had something worth sharing.