Here's what you need to know about the Overwatch League
The Overwatch League officially began on Jan. 10, more than a year after its initial announcement. Blizzard aimed to set a new standard for esports, pitting 12 franchise teams against each other in a structured, competitive league. Blizzard Arena Los Angeles is the home to the Overwatch League, and the teams are fiercely battling for supremacy on the brand new stage.
Blizzard is curating nearly every aspect of the Overwatch League, down to the team uniforms and their licensed merchandise. For the inaugural season, teams will compete solely at the newly renovated Blizzard Arena Los Angeles. Teams are tied to specific regions, though. Those will come into play in later seasons, where teams will compete at home arenas across the globe.
But for the first 20-week season, Overwatch League will go down in Los Angeles.
What's the Overwatch League?
Announced in November 2016 at BlizzCon in Anaheim, California, Overwatch League is a city-based league designed to standardize Overwatch esports. Blizzard expects the Overwatch League to "thrive for years to come," creating a structured league that supports Overwatch and its players and teams. A preseason kicked off Overwatch League in December, with the regular season starting on Jan. 10 and continuing through June 16.
Postseason matches begin June 17 and continue through July 28. The postseason matches are in preparation for the championship playoffs, which run from July 11 to 22. The grand final match is scheduled for July 27 to 28 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. From there, players will participate in an All-Star Weekend, much like something you'd find in the NBA.
Twelve teams are participating in the Overwatch League's first season—nine North American teams and three international teams. Each team is associated with location from across the globe, with those teams split up into two divisions, Atlantic and Pacific.
Teams must have at least six players on the roster, with a maximum of 12. Rosters are currently locked, though another signing period will open up later in the year, allowing teams to pick up new players and transfer others. Players are guaranteed a minimum salary of $50,000, plus benefits. Some players, however, have garnered much higher payouts—Jay "sinatraa" Won of San Francisco Shock reportedly signed a $150,000 contract.
Alongside salaries, players can earn extra money as performance bonuses for winning Overwatch League matches—50 percent of the money earned from matches will go directly to players, according to Blizzard. Total bonuses for Overwatch League teams in the first season will be $3.5 million, with a minimum of $1 million going to the season one champion.
- Boston Uprising
- Florida Mayhem
- Houston Outlaws
- London Spitfire
- New York Excelsior
- Philadelphia Fusion
- Dallas Fuel
- Los Angeles Gladiators
- Los Angeles Valiant
- San Francisco Shock
- Seoul Dynasty
- Shanghai Dragons
What's at stake?
Aside from international glory, there's a huge prize pool at stake for the Overwatch League. Overwatch League has a prize pool of $3.5 million. The team that wins it all in the grand finals will earn $1 million, with second place earning $400,000.
Stage title match bonuses
- First place: $100,000
- Second place: $25,000
Regular season placement bonuses
- First place: $300,000
- Second place: $200,000
- Third and fourth place: $150,000
- Fifth and sixth place: $100,000
- Seventh and eighth place: $75,000
- Ninth and 10th place: $50,000
- 11th and 12th place: $25,000
Championship playoffs placement bonuses
- World Champion: $1 million
- Runner-up: $400,000
- Third and fourth place: $100,000
- Fifth and sixth place: $50,000
- Total: $1.7 million
What's the schedule?
The Overwatch League is played every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday throughout the regular season. The games are broadcast on using Twitch and Major League Gaming's broadcast service.
- Boston Uprising vs. Dallas Fuel — 6pm CT
- Florida Mayhem vs. Los Angeles Valiant — 8pm CT
- Houston Outlaws vs. Los Angeles Gladiators — 10pm CT
- London Spitfire vs. San Francisco Shock — 6pm CT
- Los Angeles Gladiators vs. Florida Mayhem — 8pm CT
- Philadelphia Fusion vs. Shanghai Dragons — 10pm CT
- Los Angeles Valiant vs. Boston Uprising — 6pm CT
- New York Excelsior vs. Seoul Dynasty — 8pm CT
- San Francisco Shock vs. Houston Outlaws — 10pm CT
- Seoul Dynasty vs. London Spitfire — 3pm CT
- Shanghai Dragons vs. New York Excelsior — 5pm CT
- Dallas Fuel vs. Philadelphia Fusion — 7pm CT
- New York Excelsior vs. Philadelphia Fusion — 6pm CT
- Seoul Dynasty vs. Shanghai Dragons — 8pm CT
- Los Angeles Valiant vs. Los Angeles Gladiators — 10pm CT
- London Spitfire vs. Boston Uprising — 6pm CT
- San Francisco Shock vs. Dallas Fuel — 8pm CT
- Philadelphia Fusion vs. Los Angeles Gladiators — 10pm CT
- Houston Outlaws vs. Shanghai Dragons — 6pm CT
- Florida Mayhem vs. Seoul Dynasty — 8pm CT
- Boston Uprising vs. San Francisco Shock — 10pm CT
- London Spitfire vs. Dallas Fuel — 3pm CT
- New York Excelsior vs. Los Angeles Valiant — 5pm CT
- Florida Mayhem vs. Houston Outlaws — 7pm CT
- Seoul Dynasty vs. Boston Uprising — 6pm CT
- Shanghai Dragons vs. Florida Mayhem — 8pm CT
- Dallas Fuel vs. Houston Outlaws — 10pm CT
- Los Angeles Valiant vs. London Spitfire — 6pm CT
- Los Angeles Gladiators vs. New York Excelsior — 8pm CT
- San Francisco Shock vs. Philadelphia Fusion — 110pm CT
- Boston Uprising vs. Shanghai Dragons — 6pm CT
- Florida Mayhem vs. Dallas Fuel — 8pm CT
- Philadelphia Fusion vs. Seoul Dynasty — 10pm CT
- London Spitfire vs. Los Angeles Gladiators — 3pm CT
- New York Excelsior vs. San Francisco Shock — 5pm CT
- Houston Outlaws vs. Los Angeles Valiant — 7pm CT
- Los Angeles Gladiators vs. Shanghai Dragons — 6pm CT
- Los Angels Valiant vs. San Francisco Shock — 8pm CT
- Seoul Dynasty vs. Dallas Fuel — 10pm CT
- Houston Outlaws vs. Philadelphia Fusion — 6pm CT
- Florida Mayhem vs. London Spitfire — 8pm CT
- New York Excelsior vs. Boston Uprising — 10pm CT
- Houston Outlaws vs. New York Excelsior — 6pm CT
- Los Angeles Gladiators vs. Seoul Dynasty — 8pm CT
- Dallas Fuel vs. Los Angeles Valiant — 10pm CT
- Philadelphia Fusion vs. London Spitfire — 3pm CT
- Shanghai Dragons vs. San Francisco Shock — 5pm CT
- Boston Uprising vs. Florida Mayhem — 7pm CT
June 17 — Stage four title matches
- TBD vs. TBD — 3pm CT
- TBD vs. TBD — 5pm CT
- TBD vs. TBD — 7pm CT
Scheduling for the rest of the regular season can be found on the Overwatch League website.
How can I support my team?
Fans can support their favorite Overwatch League teams by buying merchandise and in-game skins. Blizzard added a new tab to Overwatch's in-game menu where fans can view the Overwatch League schedule and buy their favorite team's skins. All 312 Overwatch League skins, one for each of Overwatch's 26 heroes, are available there.
Players are given 100 free Overwatch League tokens to start out with, as each skin costs 100 tokens. After that, players can buy Overwatch League tokens. One hundred tokens cost $5 and scale up from there—200 tokens for $10, 400 tokens for $20, 900 tokens for $40, or 2,600 tokens for $100.
What about the playoffs and grand finals?
Set to begin on July 11 after the regular season concludes on June 17, the Overwatch League season one playoffs will be held at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles. Six teams will qualify for the playoffs via their regular season record, with the top seed from each division getting a first-round bye. The next four teams in line will advance to the playoffs.
Quarterfinal matches begin on July 11 and continue July 13 to 14. Games will begin at 6pm CT on Wednesday and Friday. The Saturday match will begin at 3pm CT. The semifinal round will be played out the following week, on July 18 and July 20 to 21, with the same timing schedule.
Tickets are on sale now. Single day tickets are $30 each.
Two winners will move on to the grand finals at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The finals event will be played in a unique format: the first team to win two best-of-five matches will win the championship prize. The grand finals event will begin July 27 at 7pm CT with the first of potentially three best-of-five matches. Play continues on July 28 at 3pm CT for the second and potential third series. The lion's share of the $1.4 million prize pool is at stake for two teams, as well as the title of the first Overwatch League season champions.
Two-day tickets go on sale on May 18 at 9am CT.
When's season two?
There will be a second season, but details are scarce on that front. An ESPN report release yesterday suggested the Overwatch League will expand by four to six teams for the second season, with franchise slot prices increasing up to $60 million. Prices could range from $30 million to $60 million, according to ESPN. Cities will be priced according to general population and the number of Overwatch players in the region, among other factors, the report said.
The Overwatch League is reportedly targeting European and Asian markets, but will expand in North America, too.