Activision Blizzard Announces Overwatch Teams, Cities

Activision Blizzard announced the sale of the first Overwatch League™ teams for major global cities to seven entrepreneurs and leaders from traditional sports and esports. The Overwatch League is the first major global professional esports league with city-based teams.

New team owners include:

  • Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots (Boston)
  • Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets (New York)
  • Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals (Los Angeles)
  • Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando)
  • Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports (San Francisco)
  • NetEase (Shanghai)
  • Kevin Chou, Co-Founder of Kabam (Seoul)

“Overwatch already connects over 30 million players worldwide. The Overwatch League will celebrate and reward our most accomplished players and give fans more opportunities to engage with each other,” said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. “We’re excited to be working with leaders from esports and traditional sports to celebrate our players and to establish the Overwatch League.”

“Overwatch is a game about a diverse group of international heroes who fight for an optimistic vision of the future, and the Overwatch League is an extension of that spirit,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and Co-Founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re building this league for fans – esports fans, traditional sports fans, gaming fans – and we’re thrilled to have individuals and organizations who are as passionate about professional competition as we are, and who have extensive experience in all three fields, representing our first major international cities in the league.”

“We have been exploring the esports market for a number of years and have been waiting for the right opportunity to enter,” said Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group. “The incredible global success of Overwatch since its launch, coupled with the league’s meticulous focus on a structure and strategy that clearly represents the future of esports made this the obvious entry point for the Kraft Group.”

“It’s an honor to be selected as one of the ownership groups in the inaugural season of this new league,” said Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner at Sterling.VC, a Sterling Equities venture capital fund. “We view our participation in the Overwatch League as a major opportunity to take a lead position where technology is converging with sports and media. This partnership with the Overwatch League and with some of the elite ownership groups in professional sports, offers a unique opportunity to connect with millions of dedicated fans, engaged and passionate about one of the world’s fastest growing sports, and to continue proudly representing New York.”

Adds Fortune: “The Overwatch League is the first major eSports league to be built like a traditional professional sports league, with each team attached to a specific city or region in order to build local fanbases. Activision Blizzard’s league also has the benefit of owning Major League Gaming, an organization that creates and distributes eSports events and coverage, which gives the company an obvious streaming outlet for self-distributing Overwatch League content on top of the money that Activision Blizzard expects to bring in through ticket sales, advertising, and merchandise. (Some Overwatch eSports events are included in a digital rights deal that Activision Blizzard signed with Amazon’s streaming video service Twitch last month, but Nanzer said that Overwatch League events are not part of that deal at the moment.)”

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