Jefferies: Activision esports set to go big

It was leaked by esports journalist Richard Lewis that those who have committed to Overwatch League spots have also been advised by Activision Blizzard that there is a similar plan for the Call of Duty scene.

The company sold franchises for seven teams in its Overwatch League, which it says is the first major esports league with city-based teams - and reportedly for about $20M each. So it's not just a team versus team battle, but it can also serve as a means of sparking team spirits among the citizens of the respective origins. The other six teams in the global league will be New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, Shanghai and Seoul.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is bringing a new team to Boston - this time in competitive esports. The revenue likely will be recognized over time, he said.

Although the details of how it would operate are still scarce, the concept would see a location based franchise system similar to traditional American sports such as the National Basketball Association or NFL, with teams unable to be relegated from the premier division. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick also provided details as to what the League is about and what gamers can expect from it.

Overwatch is developed by Blizzard and has reached over 30 million players. eSports has been watched by 285 million people worldwide a year ago. Blizzard said in the announcement that the cities will be "physical backdrops and cultural inspirations" for the teams. "We're excited to be working with leaders from eSports and traditional sports to celebrate our players and to establish the Overwatch League". He pointed to opportunities such as Blizzard's Overwatch Contenders Series, the development league for aspiring Overwatch League professionals. For another, there are more teams to be announced on the horizon. "We think it's really important to use teams at all levels, so we have the Contenders Series, and we hope that many of those teams will compete in that competition". In addition, more information on regulations concerning player movement and minimum salaries is in the works. Games for the league's first season, slated to start later this year, will be played in a Los Angeles arena. Additionally, these matches will take place each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

"Overwatch is a game about a diverse group of worldwide heroes who fight for an optimistic vision of the future, and the Overwatch League is an extension of that spirit", Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, said in the statement.

"Overwatch already connects over 30 million players worldwide".

Two team owners are from traditional sports leagues. Today, the first seven teams and their owners have been revealed and they are a doozy.

Vanessa Coleman

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