It is finally happening. After being out for one year and a nebulous promise from BlizzCon 2016, Overwatch League is finally coming to life. The initial season will feature seven teams, five from the US and two international teams. The US teams will hail from Boston, New York, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles, while the international teams will be from Shanghai and Seoul. The video below is all we have to go on right now, so there is no word on how season play will be constructed.
As we have been discussing on Not Enough Resources, there is a lot of controversy with the formation of the league. First off, there is no representation from Europe or South America in the League, which seems like a gross oversight. On top of that a lot of fan run tournaments, or even tournaments at major events like Dreamhack, have been squashed in the planning phases to avoid competition with the Blizzard backed Overwatch League. Then there is the financial side of things. The buy in for teams to join the league is a gigantic $20 million each, which is why you see things like Robert Kraft, the general manger of the New England Patriots, throwing his hat in the ring. This has created a huge barrier of entry that professional eSports groups like Cloud9 gaming cannot participate in. Will professional gamers that have signed on with already established teams jump ship to play in the Overwatch League? That remains to be seen.
The other big event Blizzard announced is the 2nd Overwatch World Cup. Just like the actual World Cup, this is a more robust tournament focusing on teams from 32 different countries. The group stages of the tournament started last night, with match ups like Romania V China, and Norway V Hong Kong. Eventually, through all of the group play, the final 8 teams will be sorted into a more traditional tournament bracket. The Shanghai group stages are this weekend, with the Australia group stages next weekend. Poland and US group stages will be in August, with the grand finale taking place at BlizzCon 2017 in November.
It is great to see Overwatch step into the eSports world in two big ways. The World Cup is a cool concept that breaks teams up, and make the game a true international touchstone. I feel it reflects the idea of the world of Overwatch in a modern way. There are still way too many questions about the Overwatch League to see how it will function, but it is nice to see Blizzard making this big push into the mainstream.
This post originally appeared on RoguesPortal.com.