Overwatch League News

Overwatch League Team Focus – Boston

Boston is the other major player on the East Coast in the Overwatch League. Boston folks love their sports. They love their Patriots and that is where this team will excel. Robert Kraft is the owner and the Kraft Group has already set up a page talking about the Team and the League. Granted it is small right now, but it is there.

Boston is a video game town. With MIT having some of the best technical folks on the planet this is very much a hot bed for Esports. It also hosts PAX East, one of the largest gaming shows in the U.S. (it is bigger than E3 peeps). So if you don’t think of games when you think of Boston, think again. They have a much better footprint than New York.

Here is what Robert Kraft had to say on the subject:

“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.”

The best thing about Kraft is they will hire the top talent in the region to manage the team. They will also build a solid team which again, comes into question with home grown talent. It is the challenge that all East Coast teams will have.

The main question continues to be how do you win over your local market? Where do you plant your flag and who will arrive first to the events? The Kraft Group will be able to access large venues and host the events. So they have a strong side to the event seen. It really depends on how the two cities with some of the largest populations win over their fans.

The rivalry between New York and Boston will begin from day one. It may already be talked about now. You did have other teams taking shots at Boston already simply because of the Patriots name behind the organization. It makes for great hype as we go into the season.

The main question with the Northeast franchises is will they partner with top Esports teams already established? There are a lot of good teams out there in the U.S. market who can be bought up and moved into these cities. So who in management makes that call?

For Boston, it is clear they have a slight edge over New York in terms of tech community and events. Their investors have an equal ranking as huge powerful financial firms. So, once this league gets into the trenches that is when you will see the differences come in quickly. Regardless of how much both teams compete, they will be going after established Esports names on the West Coast and well, Seoul.

-Mash

overwatch league new york

Overwatch League Team Focus – New York

In the unlikely city of New York, Esports is alive and well. At least, we think it is. Blizzard’s big announcement about the first seven teams includes New York and Boston. Two East Coast rivalries with decades of history. Now however, they are entering into Esports with little experience in the sport, but they have something else…

Money and influence. Recently, you may have seen this article regarding the East Coast endorsements from Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, Jeff Wilpon, and Bob Kraft. They all appeared on CNBC together to promote a solid foundation for the East Coast. These teams will have huge financial resources behind them. They will pull on traditions in both cities to build a following and create an atmosphere around them like no other. New York will be at the epicenter based on population alone.

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In the interview, Jeff Wilpon said the following:

“Basically, because of the structure Bobby put together with his team. That there is going to be a sharing of revenues from the central point, which we don’t have in baseball as much. Some of the other sports do, and I thought that it was a great model to be able to really grow this, and in five to ten years, the franchise values should be quite a bit more than they are today.”

This brings up a solid point that teams will share in the overall profits. Side note, Kotick was fantastic in Moneyball, even if you are not a baseball fan, that movie speaks volumes of what the Overwatch League may have to deal with in terms of Esports athletes.

Which brings in our next point, how is NY going to get players? Will they import like everyone else? Or will there be home grown talent. One thing is for sure, many early NY teams are built on tradition, a tradition which started so far back you had to have local players involved. This is the big trick for NY, home grown talent.

The other battle will be NY media. They are brutal. Every sports team suffers horrific headlines and pictures if they fail, but on the flip side are praised and rewarded if they win. People will talk about you for years. You can never do wrong again, and you if you were on a winning team you will likely never pay for a dinner in town again either!

So New York will be critical to the league overall. NY is THE biggest market in the U.S. hands down. How it will shape up and build around the city is going to be the true meter of success or failure. You have the best venues in NY with Madison Square Garden and about six other major stadiums that can host huge events. It would make sense for NY to be an early contender in the possible championship event just based on population and venue availability alone. Heck they even held a Super Bowl here in February! NY will be the team to watch, how it plays out will make headlines worth reading that’s for sure.

-Mash

overwatch league owners

VIDEO – CNBC Interview with the CEO and Owners!

CNBC is not the place you think of for game news. However, this interview with the highest profile Overwatch League owners tells the tale of money and power coming to eSports in a way it hasn’t before. For hardcore gamers it is fun to pick up on the mistakes made, but overall this piece by CNBC is very telling of what is coming. Asia and the West Coast may

Activision Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick, Patriot’s Robert Kraft, and Mets Jeff Wilpon all sit down to discuss the league. The Boston and New York franchises have THIS in their arsenal, money. Teams for these two cities will soon be formed, but it will be interesting to see who management will be. If the $20 million buy in is true, that is a drop in the bucket for these guys.

-Taco

 

overwatch league los angeles

Overwatch Team Focus – Los Angeles

Noah Winston comes in with the Immortals. L.A. will be one of the top cities entering the league with a huge draw in Esports and having close ties with Blizzard in the L.A. area. The Immortals have a solid core team and bring the credit from the grass roots into the competition.

Finishing 1st in the Overwatch Contenders tournament and with a string of victories in recent months the Immortals will be a powerhouse. Possibly the best North American team out there. Noah Winston also is dedicated to building a Los Angeles fan base which he highlighted in his video recently.

An interesting highlight with the Immortals is their recent partnership with AEG. AEG is a sporting and music entertainment presenter based in Los Angeles. They have a massive stake in stadiums, as well as investments in pro teams like: The L.A. Galaxy, Lakers, Kings, and others outside the U.S.

AEG is an event powerhouse and will be able to leverage the L.A. area to host major events almost immediately. Having them on board gives the Immortals a huge benefit to hosting massive events. As Noah Winston explained in his video, they want fans coming to the matches instead of watching them at home.

He really seems to understand what goes into the League and how the build will begin. You want live events but you also want someone who will not just watch from home. The goal here is to fill arenas like any other sports league. It is to gain TV rights and broadcast rights and continue to build up a following. The Immortals are in the prime position to be similar to the Yankees or Cowboys in other leagues. A team that everyone gets behind despite their location.

So the question remains, will the Immortals become “America’s Team” out of L.A. There are a lot of East Coast fans who would argue against that. This team is poised to be in that position though. They have high rankings, and the ability to leverage events. The team does have a solid history in League of Legends and Counter Strike victories as well so they do get it. Even though they are young, formed in 2015, there is a lot to watch here.

Watch their Match against Rogue here. 

Overall, the Immortals will be the in a huge rivalry with NRG for California bragging rights. Their placement in tournaments gives them the credit going into the League and building on a known winning franchise. It is definitely time to watch them in the Contenders Season Zero right now as more events come up. They also made it to the 2017 Beat Invitational Grand Finals facing off against Team Rogue. Maintaining a solid schedule to keep their skills sharp, you do see the Immortals setting some early trends for the game. Watching their match in the Hollywood map, these guys can spring risky surprises and go for the win quickly. They are a fun team to watch for sure.

-Mash

nrg

Overwatch League Team Focus -San Francisco

The next team to join the league is San Francisco which brings in some heavyweight sports backing. The team is being run by NRG Founder Andy Miller. Who just happens to be the co-owner of the Sacramento Kings. Not only that, you have investors like Shaq and A-Rod on the board who are sports icons in this era. Round out the idea that San Fran is the tech hub in the U.S. and you will have a very powerful team coming to the league.

Their Overwatch team does okay and has multiple players. They currently compete in the Overwatch Contenders League. Their roster ranks with: Anthony “Harbleu” Ballo, Seb “Numlocked” Barton, Tim “Dummy” Olson, and André “IDDQD” Dahlström. The team is a mix of international players from Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S. with trial players coming from Brazil.

You would think this team has the firepower to make a real punch in the league. Well we think they will. Looking at the scope of how the cities are shaping up, San Fran has the best chance to give Seoul a run for its money. Perhaps next to Shanghai, the San Fran team will be in the top placements.

Home grown talent will not be an issue for this team as San Fran has an active esports community. The mix of talent will create a solid hot spot for the city. Expect fans to rally behind this team much more quickly than say New York or Boston. The tech culture love their trends and this is definitely one of them. Derrick Troung is the current GM of the team.  Surely his role in structuring the Overwatch league main team will come into play over the next few season.

Right now San Fran remains an interesting market to watch. It can best be describe as the gage of the North American audience as no one can predict the success of huge markets like Boston and New York. As the League grows quickly, NRG will come into its own and likely be the premiere North American team. It all depends on how many players make the leap across the continental U.S. to play for other cities. You have 3 on the East Coast and only 2 on the West. We have yet to see popular West Coast markets like Seattle field a team, though this is likely.

For now, NRG has a history with Esports and a strong backing of top athletes’ money behind it. They have solid venues to host events and the community for support. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess, but you can bet they will be ready. As the West Coast shapes up, their only rival for talent in Los Angeles which will have the pull of Blizzard close by to bring in players and fans. These two teams will become rivals for sure even as early as season one. Just the same as Boston and New York will quickly draw the battle lines.

-Mash

misfits esports

Overwatch League Team Focus – Miami-Orlando

Florida is not the place you think of when talking tech or Esports, more like, retirement and bull sharks. However, Florida is home to Misfits Gaming, a pro-team syndicate that has ties to the Miami Heat. Ben Spoont is the CEO and named as the Owner of the Overwatch League franchise.

Misfits are no stranger to Esports and their teams compete in multiple games including: Counterstrike, Hearthstone, League of Legends, and Super Smash Bros. However a detailed look at their Overwatch team shows an interesting break down.

One the Misfits site, the majority of their players come from Europe, Sweden specifically. This crew is solid, however none of them are home grown. The questions begin to come in as to how Spoont and the Miami Heat will pull local talent from Florida? You cannot just import a group of players from another country and expect the local fans to follow. Or can you?

The other battle that Misfits have is they are only a year old. Grants, New York and Boston teams do not even have that level of history. At least Misfits have a name in Esports. With the money behind the Miami Heat it may create the foundation to what would be the true underdog in the league. A franchise made of primarily of Europe talent, in a market that is somewhat removed from the rest of the high tech areas, they are coming into the League with some interesting challenges.

Overall though, within one year, the Misfits have made a very solid name for themselves. In such a short amount of time their teams have done well in Europe and continue to grow quickly. They also are starting to amass a following. As early as back in March the European players were talking about the move to North America. Sebastian “Zebbosia” Olsson was caught talking about the topic on Twitch in the spring. So, this could be an example of a team that is transported into a local market. A big difference from the team in Seoul who are actively promote a home grown team, however, Seoul has the talent to pull it off.

You can find the current Misfits Overwatch team roster here. Just how many of these players will be feeling the warm sun in Miami soon? With the season hoping to start soon, many players will be seeking to get picked up in this market. We just hope they can draw the local crowds with local talent. That will be their biggest challenge. For now, the team has a strong European line up and a good following overseas. Just because you are in the town with a local team, does not mean you can follow someone else? Many fans of franchises like the Raiders, Dolphins, and Cowboys live outside their respective markets.

Who knows, Misfits may be the first team with an overseas foot print to gain a following before the league begins. We will have to wait and see how their team builds in the coming months.

– Mash

Overwatch League Team Focus – Seoul

Seoul, South Korea is essentially where Esports began. If you follow Blizzard years back you will see the rise of Starcraft in competition. After decades of hardcore play, the Korean market grew into the epicenter for huge live Starcraft events. This set the groundwork for what would become Esports as we know it today. Fast forward to 2016 and it is obvious that Seoul would be one of the first teams to enter into the Overwatch League.

Kevin Chou and Kent Wakeford are the founders of mobile game monster Kabam. After selling the company the two entrepreneurs are now focused on what gaming’s next new frontier will be. If you have several hundred million to invest with, then buying into the rumored $20 million for an Overwatch Pro Team does not seem like much. So, very quickly we have Seoul, South Korea as one of the founding teams in the Overwatch League.

The company will operate under KSV eSports International. KSV means Korea Silicon Valley, two heavy weight locations in tech and games. The main point here with the team from Seoul is that KSV will be hosting an all-Korean team to compete. Given the history that Korea as a nation has in Esports expect them to quickly field some of the best players in the world.

In an interview with Venturebeat, Kevin Chou explained that huge efforts would be made to have the Seoul fan base rally behind their team. The reason for an all Korean roster is designed to gain the support of the city. What Chou does have here is the purest tradition in Esports and a city that already has a rich history in the brand new industry. Cities like New York and Boston may have large sports backgrounds, but cannot compare to the Esports community in Seoul. This is a big advantage for the team and franchise.

South Korea won the Overwatch World Cup last year and will be joining the ranks at BlizzCon this year for all of the action. Their team does host some of the top players: Kim “Mano” Dong-gyu, Hwang “Fl0w3R” Yeon-oh, Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-ryeol, Kim “zunba” Joon Hyuk, Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong, and Yang “tobi” Jin-mo. This team is scary good and the rest of the globe will have their hands full trying to take away their title.

 

So, how many of these players will join the franchise for launch? Will we see a Seoul pro team that becomes more of a Korean All Star line up? What type of contracts will these high level players warrant, as they already do extremely well? There are a lot of questions concerning the build-up of this powerhouse type team.

Chou described his team as a underdog in comparison to other major sports franchises. The opposite is much more the truth. He has the best talent to pull from in the local market and a very dedicated fanbase entrenched in Esports culture. Watching Seoul enter the league it would not be a surprise if they were champions in season one.

– Mash

overwatch league

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.

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