Earlier in July Blizzard announced the first seven teams that would be taking part in Season 1 of the Overwatch League, with teams in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, New York City, San Francisco, Seoul and Shanghai.
Now, they’ve opened the whole thing up, and dished the dirt on how the league will work.
Firstly, Blizzard have taken steps to evaluate the worlds top Overwatch players, with the aim of helping Overwatch League owners assemble the best possible team. In a press release, Blizzard claim that they’ve included not just pro players, but leaderboard standouts that have so far been out of the competitive spotlight, too.
They’ve also revealed a little bit of how teams will be building their championship rosters. As a start, every player in Overwatch from the 30m+ players that is of legal age, will be considered a free agent in the Overwatch League. This includes the rosters of teams already signed up to the Overwatch league. Pre-established rosters aren’t in effect here, and each team will have to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Players will only be considered a member of a new Overwatch League team when they sign an Overwatch League Player Agreement with a team and that is approved by the Overwatch League. This needs to occur between August 1 and October 30, the first signing window for the Overwatch League.
The move to a centralised system has its perks though. Players can expect a minimum salary of $50,000 a year, with health insurance and a retirement savings plan. Teams will also be required to distribute at least 50% of their team performance bonuses — think prize money and other league events) to their players.
The total prize-pool for teams playing the Overwatch League in Season 1 comes to $3.5m, with the Season 1 champion getting a minimum of $1m.
Every player will have a guaranteed contract for a year, with an option to renew at the end of that year.
This is a big amount of money for a fledgling esport, and should generate some interest. Players and teams that have been talking about a lack of financial incentive in the Overwatch scene will now be reevaluating, because a $1m prize pool is unheard of in competitive Overwatch at this point.
Some other details about rosters have emerged. Quoting directly from the press release:
-Each team roster must have at least six players and no more than 12 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.
The Overwatch League still has no date, but Blizzard say in the press release that it is to launch this year.