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Blizzard Creates Esports Careers With Overwatch League

Blizzard Creates Esports Careers With Overwatch League
Blizzard has announced that it will be starting the Overwatch League next year with a view to give competitive Overwatch players a sustainable living. This ambitious competitive league is looking to bring stability, consistency and accessibility to Overwatch esports - and it's going to do so in a number of ways. Key among them is the use of permanent teams. What this means is - unlike most esports leagues right now - there is no concept of relegation or promotion. Instead, teams that are accepted into the Overwatch League will be locked into it, giving them a guaranteed place in the league regardless of how well they perform. While Blizzard admits that it will miss out on some of the excitement and drama of promotion and relegation - as we see in football - in the world of esports, where there are fewer teams across fewer regions, this can have a devastating affect on competing teams. You only need to look at how many organisations drop out of certain esports titles to see how true this is. Those that have been invited to take part in the Overwatch League includes both established professional esports orgs as well as traditional sports teams looking to get into the world of esports. Most interesting is how Blizzard has claimed it will be looking to incorporate city-based teams into the Overwatch League, enabling a more local element to esports that we don't see at all in competitive gaming right now. While it hasn't detailed quite exactly how this will work, Blizzard suggests we could see fans rallying behind Manchester- or London-based teams as they compete against teams from Paris, Berlin or Madrid. Blizzard hopes that this will help increase the connection - and amount of - fans have with their local teams, but also provide greater opportunities for merchandising, sponsorship and additional revenue. The Overwatch League is set to begin sometime around Q3 2017 with a focus on bringing these first pro teams and players to the forefront of Overwatch. However in 2018 a more regular and consistent league will be played, with matches that can be tracked more regularly - akin to how most traditional sports competition works - with both a Spring and Summer season and finals in August. This will incorporate an off-season, whereby players won't have to permanently compete in a 12-month calendar of competitive games. For players to take part in the Overwatch League there will be a combine where players will compete to prove their skill and talent in Overwatch. This will take place before the start of the first Overwatch Season and those that are ultimately selected for the league will then be invited to sign contracts - enforcing their permanent place in the Overwatch League but also guaranteeing a regularly salary and benefits akin to the sort you'd see in traditional sports. From this combine, as with many American sports, the competitive teams taking part in the Overwatch League will be able to select their players. Since this combine will be based on in-game ladder performance - among other things - it means becoming a paid pro player in the Overwatch League is an achievable goal for most anyone. There are still many things that we don't yet know about Overwatch League, but Blizzard is certainly looking stop esports being esports and, instead, simply 'sports'. That's a noble goal, and one that we're particularly excited about.

Introducing the Overwatch League