Sun, Sep 09, 2018 - Page 10 News List

‘Overwatch’ League expands, including to Paris, Hangzhou

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Activision Blizzard on Friday added six new teams to its Overwatch League, including one in Paris, as the city-based approach to e-sports headed into its second season.

The league is already profitable, filling a stadium during championships in July that saw matches broadcast on Disney and its ESPN channels in the US, Activision e-sports league chief Pete Vlastelica said.

New teams in Chengdu and Hangzhou in China, Paris, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington for next season bring the total number in the league to 20.

“Having been in the traditional sport space, it certainly catches your eye when anything is as explosive, fast-moving and exciting as this,” said Drew McCourt, whose company DM Esports owns the rights to the Paris team.

“It has massive potential. There is huge latent demand for this in a turbo-charged demographic that feels this in an incredibly emotional way,” he said.

McCourt is president of McCourt Global, an investment firm boasting interests ranging from real estate and finance, to sports and media. His father, Global chairman Frank McCourt, bought French soccer club Olympique de Marseille several years ago and formerly owned the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.

Audiences for traditional sports broadcasts are getting older, while the Overwatch League provides an opportunity to connect with the Internet generation who get their entertainment online, Drew McCourt said.

Since its launch in January, the league has developed its own stars and legions of fans.

Fans spent 160 million hours watching leading players compete, Activision Blizzard chief executive Bobby Kotick said.

The competition comprises franchises representing cities on three continents.

The league’s models are the major US sports leagues such as the NFL or the NBA.

The vision is for league to become a true global competition, expanding to 28 teams and featuring regular matches between teams on opposite sides of the world, such as Paris taking on Beijing.

“There will always be games of the moment, but great leagues sustain games,” Vlastelica said. “We learned from traditional sports leagues.”

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