While last year's BlizzCon gathering was dominated with talk of Sombra and the then-new Arcade Mode for Overwatch, we also got our first glimpse at how Blizzard intends to handle Overwatch's eSports scene in the years ahead. To help you understand how exactly this new competitive system works, we've put together an Overwatch League guide which should answer any questions that you have.
We're incredibly excited about the future of this programme for Overwatch, and so you can rest assured that we'll be covering this scene in-depth once the roll-out has begun, with streams, analysis and results-tracking for matches as they happen. We'll have more on how we'll handle all that for you once the finer details have been revealed by Blizzard!
Got any questions? Let us know in the comments and we'll do our best to answer them, although we think this guide should provide you with all of the currently known information. If we've missed anything, do drop us a note and we'll be sure to add it in.
UPDATE #4: Blizzard have released new information regarding player salaries, contracts and general rules of conduct. You'll find all of this under the relevant sections below.
Overwatch League: Recruitment
For the first competitive season, Blizzard hosted an Overwatch combine. If you're not familiar with the term from traditional sports, it's a place where prospective competitors can show off specific skills to a gathering of team managers, scouts and coaches.
Players who already demonstrated their skills at Overwatch were invited to just such an event where they tried out for teams. Progressing through a number of different tests at the event, team managers were able to find the best candidate for rounding out their existing roster.
Try-outs were purely by invitation during this starting phase, and Blizzard sent out requests for top-tier players to express an interest in being considered for a collection of professional Overwatch teams. You can read more details about this selection process over at our news report on the announcement.
Following a player scouting report that compiled top performers, the Overwatch league is opening an official player signing window for Season 1's competition. This signing windowruns from 1st August 2017 to 30th October 2017, and allows officially announced teams to sign players and form their team.
Our most popular Overwatch guides:
Overwatch League: Teams
Below you'll find the first seven teams announced for the Overwatch League, along with their franchise owners. We'll make sure to update this section when more teams are announced in the future.
- Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots (Boston)
- Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets (New York)
- Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals (Los Angeles)
- Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando)
- Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports (San Francisco)
- NetEase (Shanghai)
- Kevin Chou, Co-founder of Kabam (Seoul)
Overwatch League: Rewards
If a player is signed during the combine process, they'll be guaranteed a contract which ensures they receive a minimum salary and a benefits package. The duration of the contract and the exact remuneration figures can be found below.
- Players must be signed to one-year contracts, and these can be extended by an additional year. Contracts will guarantee players at least $50,000 in salary, including health insurance and a retirement savings plan.
- Players must also receive 50% of the team’s performance-based income. This means any winnings from the first season’s $3.5 million prize pool.
Overwatch League: Seasons
Once teams have been formed, they will take part in a number of matches, although the exact structure of this initial season has yet to be revealed. There won't be activity every day by the sounds of it, although the official site promises that game highlights and features will be broadcast on non-match days.
Overwatch League: The Championship Run
Beyond the usual seasonal play, there will also be a special event, broadcast live, where the top-rated teams battle to be crowned the Overwatch League World Champions.
Again, there's no timetable for this event, but you'd put money on the finals happening at BlizzCon. It certainly seems as though Overwatch League is designed to replace the World Cup, which always had the air of a stop-gap for Overwatch's first year.
Overwatch League: Rules of Conduct
As with any competition there are strict rules in place for teams and players to adhere to. Below you'll find those that have been announced so far.
- Each roster must have at least six players and no more than twelve in total.
- There is no region locking in terms of the place of birth or home country of any player.
- Teams will provide player housing and practice facilities during the season, which will meet professional standards set by the Overwatch League.