By our estimates, in second place behind Seoul, the Overwatch League Shanghai team will be tough to beat. The city already hosts a lot of Overwatch Tournaments and they host the Shanghai Qualifier for the World Cup this year. So, in short they have plenty of talent to pull from.
Follow that up with NetEase, the Chinese Internet powerhouse and you have a monster franchise. NetEase is Blizzard’s publishing partner in China too, so it is no wonder they snapped up the franchise so quickly.
The big question here is how will this team be formed? Right now we only have the company as the team owner. There is no management structure that we know of and no players signed to the franchise.
Also, they are the only ownership that is simple a company name, not associated with any one person. Sure, Robert Kraft and Jeff Wilpon are not the direct owners of the teams, but their names are on the report and that counts for a lot.
NetEase has remained quiet on their structure. Their CEO William Ding did have this to say:
“We’re passionate about gaming at NetEase, and the Overwatch League is an opportunity we didn’t want to miss” said William Ding, CEO of NetEase. “The commitment of Overwatch’s players and fan community is an incredible foundation on which to build a successful global league, and we’re looking forward to building a world-class team for Shanghai that inspires fans everywhere.”
You can expect China to have a serious rivalry with Seoul that is for sure. These two teams will likely be the top two in terms of any ranking. It is just a matter of who will come out and win during the season.
Shanghai is another location with plenty of talent to pull from. They already have a huge population and an established Esports based community. On a global scale, they are a powerhouse.
The only drama this team has faced is from some fans calling out their ties to Blizzard as a conflict of interest. This argument does not really have any weight to it though. Blizzard has remained neutral on the teams and Commissioner Nate Nanzer seems very objective in his approach. Keep in mind they are a business partner overseas, nothing more. Still, pro sports has plenty of drama underneath. The idea that they would feed early patch information to the team makes little sense. Likely these teams will all be treated very equally. Not to mention that revenues are split equally as well, that structure is much better than any other sports league for sure.
Shanghai will be a monster team. Their biggest rivalry will be against Seoul for sure, but other teams will be added, most likely Tokyo at some point, and that is when the true battle lines will be drawn. For now, it will be interesting how much of Shanghai’s team will be made up of local talent. That is the key to winning the audience quickly.
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