ESports seem to be gaining more mainstream attention every day, moving from simply broadcasting on Twitch to more mainstream channels like ESPN. So it should come as no surprise that TBS announced that it will air the Overwatch Open Grand Finals.
In a press release, ELeague, a new esports organization established in partnership between Turner, WME | IMG, and Faceit, will host a new $300,000 Overwatch tournament. Most of the tournament will take place on Twitch, while TBS will broadcast the finals alongside the Internet stream.
The online phase of the tournament will begin on July 23 and is limited to North America and Europe. The online rounds will lead to the playoffs, which will run during the weekend of August 26. The top eight teams from each region will then head to the finals. The two remaining teams will complete for top prize at Turner Studios’ ELeague Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Overwatch is an exciting new game with thrilling and expertly-balanced action that makes it perfect for competitive play,” said Michelle Attisani, Faceit’s Chief Business Officer. “We are confident that our capabilities as a platform and knowledge as a media partner will make this an exciting tournament for fans.”
The winning team will walk home with a $100,000 grand prize, while the rest of the $200,000 will be divvied up among the renaming finalists.
It’s a little unprecedented for a game as new as Overwatch to get television air time. Currently ELeague is running a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) tournament on TBS while ESPN2 recently aired the Street Fighter V Evolution Grand Finals. Both games have long histories with storied players and rivalries. Considering the breadth of longstanding competitive games out there, it’s odd that Overwatch, a game that’s been out for about two months, will find its way to living rooms later this year.
Granted, Overwatch has seen monumental success since launch. The game currently boasts over ten-million players, pointing to a very healthy competitive scene. It also seems that ELeague is planting its feet firmly with first-person shooters. We have yet to see traditional MOBA’s (massive online battle arena) get television time on Eleague. That being said, games like League of Legends or Dota 2 currently hold the most clout in terms of online viewership, and have found their way onto ESPN channels in less sponsored formats, like The International and Heroes of the Dorm.
It will be interesting to see how Overwatch does in terms of viewership when compared to CS:GO and Street Fighter V. ELeague’s CS:GO premiere week was promising, at a little over 500,000 viewers. ESPN2’s airing of Street Fighter V did respectable numbers as well, with about 200,000 viewers tuning in.