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Patriots, Mets and NetEase among first Overwatch League team owners

Five of the seven teams will be in the US, as well as one in Seoul and one in Shanghai

The first group of team owners in Activision Blizzard's Overwatch League have been named, and they will bring experience from the world of esports, traditional sports and online gaming.

Robert Kraft, the CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots, will own a team in Boston, and New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon will have a team in New York City.

There will also be three teams operated by endemic esports organisations: Immortals CEO Noah Winston will set up a team in Los Angeles, NRG Esports founder Andy Miller will operate out of San Francisco, and Misfits Gaming CEO Ben Spoont will be cover Miami and Orlando in Florida.

This mix of endemic and non-endemic teams answers one lingering concern about the Overwatch League, triggered by a reported $20 million franchise fee. Whether the buy-in cost is actually that high is still a matter of speculation, but the league won't just be affordable to traditional sports brands like the Mets and the Patriots.

The Overwatch League will also have two teams in Asia, with the Shanghai team owned by NetEase and the Seoul team operated by Kabam founder Kevin Chou.

In a statement released yesterday, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime emphasised that the league's diversity should echo the characters in the game.

"We're building this league for fans - esports fans, traditional sports fans, gaming fans," he said. "We're thrilled to have individuals and organizations who are as passionate about professional competition as we are, and who have extensive experience in all three fields, representing our first major international cities in the league."

The Overwatch League will begin later in 2017, and despite its focus on local teams and local support, the first season's matches will be played at an arena in Los Angeles. According to Activision Blizzard, this is to give teams more time to find and develop local venues.

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Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.