[toc]The Overwatch League has been one of the most anticipated endeavors in the history of esports.
After a short preseason, we’re less than a week away from the first official matches in the history of the nascent league. Here’s a primer:
You probably know what Overwatch is if you’re reading this. But for the uninitiated, it’s a video game from Blizzard Entertainment for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PCs.
It’s a team-based multiplayer online first-person shooter that has quickly caught the attention of gamers around the world. Two teams of six are pitted against each other in trying to control points on a map or delivering a payload.
Here’s how Blizzard describes the backstory:
In a time of global crisis, an international task force of heroes banded together to restore peace to a war-torn world: OVERWATCH.
Overwatch ended the crisis, and helped maintain peace in the decades that followed, inspiring an era of exploration, innovation, and discovery. But, after many years, Overwatch’s influence waned, and it was eventually disbanded.
Now, conflict is rising across the world again, and the call has gone out to heroes old and new.
The basics of Overwatch League
Blizzard announced in 2016 that it would be launching a professional league based on the rising esport. Throughout 2017, it prepared for its launch.
After a successful preseason, the real action kicks off Jan. 10.
There are 12 teams of Overwatch pros, with most teams based in the US:
- Boston Uprising
- Dallas Fuel
- Florida Mayhem
- Houston Outlaws
- London Spitfire
- Los Angeles Gladiators
- Los Angeles Valiant
- New York Excelsior
- Philadelphia Fusion
- San Francisco Shock
- Seoul Dynasty
- Shanghai Dragons
You can learn more about the teams and their rosters here. Players get a minimum base salary of $50,000.
The regular season will run Jan. 10 through Wednesday through Saturday. Teams will compete over the course of four “stages,” with bonuses coming with the title of stage winner.
The postseason starts immediately afterward, running through July 28. The top finishers in the two divisions — Atlantic and Pacific — will compete for the league title. The grand final on July 26-28 will award a $1 million bonus to the winning team.
There will also be an all-star weekend in August with some of the top players from the season.
The plan is to have home arenas in future seasons.
Where to watch Overwatch League
You can watch in person, if you’re lucky enough to be in LA.
But if you’re not, the matches will be streamed live on Twitch or on the OWL website.
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Can you bet on Overwatch League?
Many of the traditional sportsbooks and esports betting websites will likely take wagers on Overwatch League matches.
If fantasy sports is more your speed, there is a site offering leagues so you can pick esports pros for your own virtual roster.