Overwatch League — The Money of eSports
As the battle lines are drawn in the Overwatch League this week, there is already trash talking. This stems from teams already established in the Esports world now facing off against big money sports owners on the East Coast. Love them or Hate them, when the New England Patriots and New York Mets get involved, you suddenly have a much larger scale of fans and well haters. Within a week of announcements for the first seven teams, we already have Esports moguls like the Immortals CEO talking about kicking the Patriot ass!
The duel will come into play as pre-established top Esports teams wage war on the money and influence of already established sports franchises. You have small organizations built from the ground up as Overwatch teams are currently playing anywhere they can. Once the League comes into effect, players will be drafted by teams with a bigger financial backing. Players will begin to move quickly depending on the money.
This is something Nate Nanzer the Commissioner of the league has to monitor closely. How do you support a player who leaves a team like the Immortals and jumps to play for the Boston franchise? Also, will players be scouted from their respective markets, or will they simply be pulled from the Esports teams already out there? One of the things that tie so many traditional sports teams to their home city is the years of tradition going back before free agency came into sports. Players stuck with one team and built a name, as well as the core fan base that had supported them for years. It has only been in the last twenty years that huge sums of money came into the NFL, NBA, and MLB which broke up core teams. How will the Overwatch League handle this type of player jumping right off the bat?
If you break down the seven initial cities, they all have a strong history. Seoul is the birthplace of Esports for sure. San Francisco has the tech industry support. Los Angeles is close enough to Blizzard HQ and hosts many of the big West Coast game companies. Shanghai has the immense Chinese market and the power of NetEase behind them (who is Blizzard’s main partner in China). Then you add in New York and Boston, what do those cities have that the others do not? Well, two things, money and tradition. New York and Boston have a huge sports history and rivalry. Endless fights, talks, massive events, and also the largest population density in the continental U.S. They will come in with some serious force. That leaves Orlando-Miami as the final market for the first seven teams. Still two major cities in the U.S. but how will they compete? Well, Misfits Gaming is in for that market.
If the rumors of a $20 million buy in are true, then this league will quickly shape up. Trash talk is already on the board, now it is just a matter of which players go to which market? More importantly, how many of these cities can produce home grown talent to build up a sense of team pride? Will New Yorkers support players from overseas if they are shipped in to play in this area? That is a difficult audience to win over for sure.