Intel, HP named as Overwatch League launch sponsors

Members of Team USA compete in the Overwatch World Cup qualifiers in Santa Monica, California, in August. On Thursday, Blizzard Entertainment announced that Intel and Hewlett-Packard agreed to a multi-year sponsorship of the upcoming Overwatch League. Robert Paul/Blizzard Entertainment

The first sponsorship deals for the Overwatch League will be technology giants Intel and HP Inc., Blizzard Entertainment announced on Thursday. As part of the partnership, Intel will sponsor future Overwatch competitive events in addition to its involvement with the Overwatch League. HP and Intel will provide the equipment for both the league and future events with the Omen by HP gaming PCs and displays powered by Intel Core i7 processors. Both will be multiyear agreements.

"We wanted to bring something new and exciting to a global label. What we want to gain out of this is a successful league and get more people excited about competitive esports in general," Josh Kocurek, global marketing management for gaming and esports for HP Inc. said. "For Omen, in particular, we have an amazing set of competitive hardcore products that we're excited for. The Overwatch League will be good to showcase our hard work for people that will appreciate it."

The inclusion of Intel and HP to the growing Overwatch League represents another step into an esports evolution. Pete Vlastelica, president and CEO of Blizzard's Major League Gaming division compared these partnerships to traditional sports leagues in that there's an ecosystem of partners and sponsors in place to grow and sustain it. For the Overwatch League to continue building its momentum, partnerships and sponsorships are necessary for extended growth and legitimacy. As for Intel and HP, the Overwatch League represent a great opportunity for exposure.

"Intel and HP Inc. are natural partners for us (Blizzard) in both cases as providers of hardware and technology to enable competitive gaming at the highest levels," Vlastelica said. "It was a natural fit for our players and fans when they learn that these three companies are together to launch the league. We think this is an opportunity for all three to get in early with a very exciting audience."

The global Overwatch League provides a unique opportunity to connect to local fans with its city-based team structure. With increased incentive to watch teams due to its location and affiliation, there is great potential for viewership.

The inaugural regular season of the Overwatch League will launch on January 10 in L.A. and will run until June with the playoffs beginning in July. Preseason play will begin on December 6, with exhibition matches that will feature the 12 teams in the league.