The stage is now set for the first season of what could be one of the biggest esports in recent history: the Overwatch League. Teams from Dallas, Houston and Philadelphia have finalized their entries into the league, rounding out the 12 franchises in major cities in Asia, Europe, and North America.
For the first season, the ownership of the Overwatch teams in the league is split evenly between highly established and home-grown esports organizations and big money investors from the sports, technology, and entertainment sectors.
The established teams will have to create new logos and team names for their Overwatch franchise – an issue for current branding commitments. However, if the league takes off and does well among esports and regular sports fans, the move may detach the teams from the less polished and more homegrown elements of esports fandom.
Established Esports Organizations
- Team EnVyUs (Dallas), veteran esports organization with experience across multiple genres
- OpTic Gaming (Houston), established esports organization known for its passionate global fan base
- Cloud9 (London), one of the best known organizations around the world with an iconic logo and presence in several major esports.
- Immortals (Los Angeles) Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals
- Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando) Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming
- NRG Esports (San Francisco) Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports
- Comcast Spectacor (Philadelphia), leader in sports and entertainment and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers
- Los Angeles, American pro sports team owners Stan and Josh Kroenke bought a team for the LA market early on in the franchising stage.
- Boston, Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots
- New York, Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets
- NetEase (Shanghai)
- Seoul, Kevin Chou, Co-founder of Kabam
Two of the members of the esports ownership group in the league have been with their organizations for over a decade, and their sister teams have been competing against each other in FPS titles for years: Team EnVyUs and OpTic Gaming. The teams both grew out of the same marketing company in the 2000’s, and owners Mike Rufail and Hector Rodriguez are both longtime gamers themselves.
Mike Rufail from EnVy has shown nothing but enthusiasm for the Overwatch League and he’s had players wearing “nV blue” in Overwatch Contenders, Blizzard’s development league launched earlier this year.
“We are beyond excited to be joining the Overwatch League and helping to build the future of esports in Dallas,” says Rufail, the owner and CEO of Team EnVyUs.
“nV already has a significant history in competitive Overwatch, and we are pleased to be able to build upon that legacy in the league later this year.”
Hersh Interactive Group, the esports investing entity affiliated with Hersh Family Investments, is a substantial investment partner in Team EnVyUs, which continues to be led by Mike Rufail. The Dallas Overwatch League team is owned by a wholly owned subsidiary of Team EnVyUs.
The Green Wall, the name for the legion of very devoted, very vocal fans of OpTic Gaming and their lime-green and black color scheme are also coming to the Overwatch scene. The owner of the content and personality-driven esports organization, Hector Rodriguez, also expressed excitement at entering a new esports fandom:
“It’s an absolute honor to represent the great city of Houston in the Overwatch League,” says Rodriguez, owner and CEO of OpTic Gaming.
“This is another significant milestone in OpTic’s history and a testament to the loyal support of our fans. We’re excited to continue shaping the future of esports and bring the OpTic passion to the rapidly expanding Overwatch community.”
The Overwatch League’s preseason begins on Wednesday, December 6th with exhibition matches between the 12 teams at the new Blizzard Arena Los Angeles. The regular season starts on January 10th and runs through June of 2018, with playoffs and finals scheduled for July.
Esports Source has been told that more information about the Overwatch League, including team specifics such as team names, logos, and colors, as well as more information about the inaugural season’s schedule and format, will be announced in the coming months.