Overwatch League teams required to create new geolocated brands, confirms Blizzard

An overview of the Overwatch Arena during BlizzCon at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Brinson+Banks for ESPN

Ahead of the launch of the Overwatch League, Activision-Blizzard have required participating organizations to create separate business entities with specific branding to that league, the developer confirmed to ESPN in a statement.

Each of the associated teams will create new geolocated brands, as well as business corporations, specific to the Overwatch League. While these new brands will be separately named and branded, many are expected to have overlapping staff operating the Overwatch League teams.

The names for these teams have not been decided, but sources say each confirmed party has created new business corporations to own their league slots.

"The Overwatch League is an entirely new endeavor in esports, combining a brand-new IP with a city-based team structure and other components that strongly distinguish it from other initiatives and programs in competitive gaming," Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer said. "Our team owners are all as enthusiastic as we are about starting with a clean slate and developing branding that is built from the ground up to reflect and enhance the innovations of the League as a whole."

When asked if there was concern whether established brands creating new identities would impact endemic fans, viewership and marketing value, Nanzer pointed to sports ownership groups and marketing support, stating that those organisations use the same resources for multiple brands already. The teams in the Overwatch League can follow the same strategy.

"There is nothing preventing teams with established endemic esports brands from using their experience and resources to promote Overwatch League teams to their existing fan bases," he said. "Just as a sports ownership group may own separate team brands in different sports leagues and use the same marketing or sales team to support both, so the same can happen with teams in the Overwatch League."

The Overwatch League is set to launch at the end of 2017, but a finalized date has yet to be announced. It currently includes nine confirmed teams.

Other, non-endemic members of the Overwatch League include New England Patriots' Robert Kraft, Los Angeles Rams' Stan Kroenke, New York Mets' Jeff Wilpon, KSV eSports and NetEase.

"All of our team owners have proven track records of success in developing popular and respected brands from scratch, and we are confident that they will all be able to succeed in this area to create a premier experience for fans," Nanzer said.

Los Angeles-based Cloud9 acquired the London Overwatch League slot on Aug. 9, the team announced. Meanwhile, Charlotte-based Team EnVyUs is in the process of acquiring the Austin-Dallas slot for the league, sources told ESPN on Sunday.

Two of the other teams, Immortals and Misfits, procured spots in their home markets of Los Angeles and Miami-Orlando, respectively, in July. NRG Esports, which has been a part of the esports space since 2015, have not had a home market affiliation previously, aside from many of its founders operating out of the Northern California area.