The competitive Overwatch community has been digesting the massive output of information surrounding the upcoming Overwatch League for quite some time now. However, since the reveal of the first seven teams to be entering the League, along with their ownership groups, the flow of details regarding the rest of the League’s stricture, player compensation in particular, has stagnated. Potential team members have been left in the dark when it comes to what they may be earning as a salary, let alone any benefits which may accompany it; that is, until now. In an update posted on the official Overwatch League website, Activision-Blizzard’s plan for the success of its individual players was released, and it seems that they have gone absolutely all-out for their prospects. To begin with, a scouting report which had been compiled listing statistics and information on top-tier players was delivered to each team; the evaluations catalogued data on the highest-ranked players in the world, regardless of whether or not they currently play on a professional esports team. These players have a chance to be signed by a team beginning on August 1st, continuing until October 30th; in addition, these players can be contacted and signed by any team which has officially announced its participation in the League; this also includes teams that enter the League within the signing period. The inclusion of this excerpt in the post seems to insinuate that there are more investors who are interested in buying a team; perhaps there’s still a chance for an unannounced European team to end up participating by the end of the signing period. In any case, any player may be signed by any such team during the signing period, even if he is currently a part of another team. In addition, any team which bought into the League while already possessing a pro roster will not be required to retain said roster; this allows the field of prospective players to include every talented player, no matter his affiliation with a prior team.
For players who are lucky (or rather: talented) enough to be signed to a professional League team, they will be guaranteed a series of extensive benefits, beginning with a minimum contract length of one year. Players signed to a contract will receive a minimum salary of $50,000; in addition to this, members of the team that wins Season 1 of the Overwatch League will earn an overall bonus of $1million. Over the course of Season 1, there will be a total bonus value of $3.5million, of which 50% will be distributed directly to the players on each winning team. Amazingly, none of the income accumulated by each player will necessarily need to go towards housing or equipment, as teams will be required to provide both of those accommodations to their respective players. However, what may be the most surprising inclusion in this already extensive list of perks is that of guaranteed health care coverage and a retirement savings plan; never before has such a substantial addition been made to an esports organization. While these inclusions certainly are enticing, they will only be available to a select few players: with a maximum of 12 players on each of the current 7 teams, only a total of around 84 players will be selected. This includes players from every part of the globe. Thus, it seems that only the very best of the best will even have a shot at entering the League.
Although many players have openly expressed interest and ambition towards joining the League, it is very apparent that many players fear for their careers in the Overwatch esports scene. Due to the incredibly restricted amount of potential players for the League, it is almost certain that some incredibly talented players will be excluded from play; at least, until more teams are revealed. In fact, with regards to the current number of teams that have been announced, only around the top 27 players from each region would be capable of participating; obviously, teams will not be so simple-minded as to select players in that fashion, but nonetheless, the example stands as a testament to the exclusive nature of the League.
Despite the fact that teams which bought into the League, such as Immortals, NRG, and Misfits, are able to replace members of their previous rosters, the community has wondered whether or not successful tams that buy in, such as Immortals, will even bother to disrupt their team’s composition. Immortals has proven themselves to be a formidable opponent during their run in Overwatch Contenders Season 0; thus, there may be potential for the dominant group to remain intact for the first season of the League. However, maybe the ownership attempts to pick up a major free agent in the scene, such as Emongg or Seagull (who will probably return to NRG). Nonetheless, it is highly uncertain whether or not the Immortals roster will change in any way.
At the end of the post on the Overwatch League website, confirmation was given to remind readers that the League is scheduled to start at some point this year; therefore, it seems that the community has been given just about all of the essential information regarding the League. Having said that though, Activision-Blizzard has still not yet revealed the format of League matches, nor have they revealed the specific dates for when the League will start or how divisions, points, or such features will potentially play out. However, if one were to predict the “divisions” for the League (for lack of a better term), then it will likely be that the west coast teams of San Francisco (NRG) and Los Angeles (Immortals) will be paired; Boston (Robert Kraft), New York (Jeff Wilpon) and Miami-Orlando (Misfits Gaming) will be paired; and Seoul (Kabam’s Kevin Chou) and Shanghai (NetEase) will be paired. These groups are in no way official, but their locations seem to be consistent with those of select branches of the League.
It seems like the Overwatch League is finally coming over the horizon, and stability and mainstream coverage for esports seem to be rising right along with it. Soon enough, prospective players will be bombarded with offers from each team; and with each name signed on the dotted line of an official contract, the League comes closer and closer to fruition. Now, all the community can do is eagerly wait while each organization nabs the best of the best, hoping that their favorite team will end up being the very first champion of the Overwatch League.