Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Bi-weekly Gamer: Overwatch League gives pros a reason to join

August 16, 2017 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

The Overwatch League (OWL) is one of the first esports leagues to be structured like a traditional sport. OWL teams will be city-based, similar to how the NHL or NBA works; the buy-in price, though, is huge, starting at $20 million and increasing based on the city. For that price, teams are guaranteed a permanent spot in the league, which started up back in November of 2016. League teams will be able to drop rosters at will, change staff, and pay to change cities, and they’ll have a non-region-locked player base.

Already, huge names—including New England Patriots CEO Robert Kraft, esports team Immortals CEO Noah Whinston, and New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon—have bought teams. Blizzard, the developer behind Overwatch, is anticipating an expansion to more cities over the coming years.

The Bi-weekly Gamer is a column about competitive gaming that appears in every issue of Nexus.

So far, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Seoul all have teams in the league.

Along with the city-based structure, regular broadcasts and a prime-time game broadcasting structure have been planned. The prime-time game broadcast is expected to look like Sunday Night Football, which features a highlighted game between two top teams.

There is also an expectation that cable TV or other subscription-based platforms will be used in addition to traditional esports streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube.

The OWL also recently announced what players will be getting out of being a part of the league. To start, teams will be required to sign players to a one-year contract, which they can then extend to two years if they choose to.

A player will have a minimum yearly salary of $50,000 plus at least 50 percent of event winnings (for example, the team that wins season one could see earnings of $135,000 per player).

Something else to draw players in is the allure of teams being required to provide health insurance, a retirement savings plan, housing, and practice facilities for the players to be used during the season; these benefits are unseen, so far, in the rest of the esports world. Here’s hoping Vancouver is bought out so we can have an almost-local team.

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