Blizzard Entertainment is basing their new esports league after conventional sports leagues like the NFL and MLB. The league will start off only in the Americas and has plans to move to Europe, China, Korea, and the Asia-Pacific Region and will start in 2017.
The Overwatch League is looking to bridge the gap between esports and conventional sports. Instead of having independent teams that can be from anywhere in the world, the league is planning on having teams stationed in cities around the world. The idea behind this is to make people get attached to a home team like they would in the NFL or NBA.
Another big advance for the league is that players will be given health benefits and a minimum salary. This takes away the risk of pursuing a career in the game because players are now guaranteed money and health care, whereas before they only got money based off of performance and had no benefits.
The league is going to have a combine where they invite players of high-skill rank in the game’s competitive game mode to show off their skills and be evaluated for teams. Players have to get a special invitation from Blizzard to join the combine, and teams will sign the player they believe are best suited for their team according to the video Blizzard made explaining the league.
Existing pros have varying opinions on the league, but one thing is certain; they do not have enough answers.
“‘I’m not concerned as a [pro] player. I just like playing the game and everything seems good so far to me so we’ll see what happens,’” commented Lane ‘Surefour’ Roberts in an interview with Yahoo Esports. Surefour is one of the best pros in the game right now, playing for one of the best teams, Cloud 9, but not all pros share his openness to the idea of their teams splitting up.
“‘I just want to play with the people I like. I don’t like the idea of being forced to play for some other team. Even if I got paid triple what I got now I would simply still not do it,’” commented Timo ‘Taimou’ Kettunen in an interview with Yahoo Espots. Taimou played for the number one team in the world, EnVyUs, so it is understandable why he and his teammates would not want to change teams.
The Overwatch League seems to be an interesting experiment to bridge the gap between esports and conventional sports, which if done right, could change the way the world looks at sports, but if done wrong could destroy the Overwatch esports scene altogether.