There’s plenty of questions, most unanswered, but Blizzard’s highly anticipated and heavily publicised Overwatch League will indeed start this year, as promised when it was first announced at Blizzcon 2016.
Blizzard is now preparing for the official player signing window, following the announcement of the seven inaugural teams earlier this month.
Once a player signs a contract with one of those seven teams they’ll be an official Overwatch League player, and Blizzard has made it clear that until said contract is signed, a player can’t officially be part of a team roster.
That addresses confusion surrounding already-established teams that are already part of the seven-team league.
“Players associated with established Overwatch teams—even teams from organizations that have been announced as part of the Overwatch League—are not automatically signed to those rosters,” Blizzard said in a statement. “By the same token, the Overwatch League does not preclude eligible players from joining any League team because of previous team affiliation.”
That means that any player from any team can be scouted and signed by any other team.
The signing free agency window will kickstart on August 1, running until October 30. BlizzCon starts November 3, so we can probably guess that it will act as the starting point for the Overwatch League, perhaps directly after the finals of the Overwatch World Cup.
Here are the first seven Overwatch League teams.
Boston, Owned by Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and New England Patriots
New York, Jeff Wilpon, VC and COO of New York Mets
San Francisco, Any Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports
Los Angeles, Noah Winston, CEO of Immortals
Miami-Orlando, Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming
Shanghai, Netease corporation
Seoul, Kevin Chou, Kabam co-founder
The Overwatch League will have a number of different revenue streams.
- In-game League cosmetics will be sold to the general public, with half of profits split between OWL teams
- Broadcast rights
Each team will receive an equal share to ensure even footing and a fair competition. All revenue earned in each team’s corresponding location will be kept by that team, capped to a certain figure. Once that figure is exceeded, a luxury tax is paid to the league, added to the shared revenue pool.
Players that are signed will be guaranteed support from the League and their team, with the minimum base salary being $50,000 USD per year. That is on top of health insurance and a retirement savings plan.
Contracts will be for one year, with options to extend throughout the season for an additional year.
Players will also receive bonuses from team performance, such as winning tournaments and events. A total of 50 percent of all bonuses will go directly to the players, leading to a big windfall with up to $3.5 million in total bonuses available, and at least $1 million going to the winner of the inaugural season.