Up until now, the structure of most eSports has basically been designed around an open tournament format, where regional teams or players compete in tournament after tournament until they crack the higher paying events. Usually these will culminate in a major championship or two throughout the year, depending on the game. Anybody could get involved, making skill levels in tournaments often as varied as snowflakes, and sometimes resulting in massively one-sided affairs. There are advantages in accessibility, but the play level isn’t always consistent.
Blizzard is hoping to change all of that with Overwatch League, their just-announced professional league for the popular multiplayer game.
What sets OL apart from other eSports leagues is that it takes cues from major athletic leagues in its construction. Cities around the US and the world will be home to individual teams, complete with local talent. In 2017 the teams will attend a combine to find the best players to fill their rosters, and team owners will be required to manage and develop them respectively.
Teams will play matches against each other within the league, with games streamed live online and the Finals taking place in front of a live audience.
More information will be coming before the league kicks off next year, but it certainly seems easier to digest for those of us who are perhaps more familiar with traditional athletic sports. With local teams to support in Overwatch League and student teams representing their schools in college tournaments, eSports leagues could hit a whole new level of support in the coming years.