Currently at $1.5B, global esports revenue will grow 26% by 2020 as it attracts an even more mainstream audience. This increase will be fueled by a viewership projected to grow 12% each year and a swelling number of third-party investments. In addition to receiving indirect revenue from investments, Overwatch and League of Legends are projected to grow their direct revenue by selling brand sponsorships, advertisements, ticket sales, and team merchandise.
Video game companies like Activision Blizzard, Riot Games and Valve continue to support their flagship esports titles with player franchising agreements and larger prize pools. Advertisers and brands like the The Kraft Group (owner of New England Patriots) and Mercedes-Benz are among the most notable, with several other sports teams and brands making financial commitments. Twitch and YouTube continue their battle for gaming video and esports dominance.
The competition will start in early January, with all matches in the first season taking place at the brand new Blizzard Esports Arena in California. Before that, some pre-season games will take place in December to get things started in 2017 as originally promised.
A mixture of experienced organizations and total esports newcomers have managed to secure spots in the competition, meaning the field will certainly be a mixed bag. However that doesn’t mean that it won’t be a great competition. Everything we have seen so far has got us very excited for the Overwatch League – these are the things we expect to happen in season one.
South Korea is by far the best region when it comes to Overwatch, but with just one spot in the league reserved for a Korean franchise, some top players will look elsewhere. We’ve already seen Cloud9, the London franchise, sign the second best Korean team in the form of Kongdoo Pantera and they will presumably be the C9 OWL roster when season one starts. This is a trend we expect to see a lot, as franchises try and secure the strongest teams in the world, and currently those are the Koreans.
The investors from the New York Mets & New England Patriots, each agreed to pay Activision $20 million over time. Team owners such as the New England Patriots’ Bob Kraft, who will control the Boston franchise, and Jeff Wilpon, whose family owns the New York Mets and will run the team in that market. Profitability for both the league and individual teams is expected in three years. Teams will share league-wide revenue from advertising and broadcast rights. They’ll get to keep local revenue up to a set amount each year. Sales of licensed merchandise will be split between the teams and the league, which is wholly owned by Santa Monica, California-based Activision. The first competitions for the Overwatch League will be played in Los Angeles later this year. More teams are expected to be named with a target of 8 to 12 by opening day.
Overwatch World Cup is about to kick off in Shanghai, China.
National Overwatch teams from China, Hong Kong, Norway, and Romania will battle in Group A, while France, Denmark, Thailand, and Argentina compete in Group B. Both groups are stuffed with top-tier, professional Overwatch talent—some, however, are full professional and others are newcomers. Teams that fill out each group, save a few, are new rosters put together specifically for the event: That means that anything can happen at the Overwatch World Cup.
Day one of the Shanghai group stage begins at 2am ET on July 14—which is 2pm in Shanghai’s local time. (Of course, if you’re in North America’s pacific time zone, the tournament starts on July 13 at 11pm PT for you.) China versus Romania begins the event, followed by Hong Kong versus Norway, France versus Argentina, and Denmark versus Thailand. Exact times for each match have yet to be released, however.
Day one is expected to continue until 9am ET.
Day two continues at 2am ET and running through 9am on July 15. China will take on Norway first, followed by Hong Kong versus Romania, France versus Thailand, and Denmark versus Argentina. As with the first day, no exact times have been laid out for each match.
Day three begins at midnight ET, running through 10am on July 16. In Shanghai, the event begins at noon. China versus Hong Kong starts the day, followed by Norway versus Romania, France versus Denmark, and Thailand versus Argentina. The playoff finals will close out the event immediately after.
The top two teams will advance to the Shanghai playoffs, where two teams heading to the main event will be determined. All of this will go down on the Overwatch Twitch stream—though those local to Shanghai will be able to watch the event in person at Yun Space.
Just as in real sports, the quality of your players can improve if you have some kind of a farm system where aspiring top-level pros can compete against each other. Overwatch Contenders is like its Triple-A league.
Overwatch will complete its first year on the market on May 23. A a short period, it has attracted over 30 million players and become popular in the esports market, which market researcher firm Newzoo predicts will grow to a $696 million business in 2017. It’s also a paid game, not free-to-play, so all of those players spent money ($40 for the base version on PC, $60 on console) upfront.
The first season of Contenders, which Blizzard is calling Season Zero, will have open signups. Online-only qualifiers will determine the top eight teams in North America and European regions with separate tournaments. Each one will have a prize pool of $50,000. The large Asia region, meanwhile, is not a part of these first seasons
Season One will then have those top teams fighting against each other in more tournaments, giving them a chance to play competitive matches regularly. It also gives Overwatch League team owners a chance to scout out additions for their rosters.