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Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer moves to Epic Games, Fortnite esports

Nate Nanzer, the commissioner of the Overwatch League since it launched in January 2018, is leaving his post to move to Epic Games to oversee competitive Fortnite.

Nanzer revealed his departure from Blizzard and the Overwatch League on Twitter, in a heartfelt message to the staff, teams, and fans of the esports league.

I can’t emphasize enough how proud I am of what we’ve all accomplished together. It has been the honor of my life to have been part of the team that helped build the league of #breakthrough, #BurnBlue, #pdomjnate, #CaptureHistory, #OWL2019, and many more. 2/4

— Nate Nanzer (@natenanzer) May 25, 2019

That’s why I’m confident the league is in great hands. I can’t wait to see where the team takes the Overwatch League in 2020 – and beyond. And I’ll be cheering right there alongside you, every step of the way. 4/4

— Nate Nanzer (@natenanzer) May 25, 2019

ESPN confirmed that after Nanzer leaves the Overwatch League next week, he will oversee competitive esports at Epic Games, the developer behind the massively popular Battle Royale shooter Fortnite.

Replacing Nanzer as Overwatch League Commissioner will be Pete Vlastelica, a former Fox Sports executive vice president who is currently President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. That group is also building a Call of Duty league that is set to launch in 2020, with former NFL vice president Johanna Faires set to serve as commissioner.

Nanzer, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, and other executives including Vlastelica, were among the co-founders of the Overwatch League, working in 2016 to recruit 12 buyers for franchises in the esports league at $20 million each.

Since the inaugural season that started in January 2018, the Overwatch League has gone mainstream with broadcasts on networks such as ESPN, ABC, and Disney. Earlier this year, Nanzer confirmed that starting 2020, the teams will start hosting matches in their home markets instead of playing all the games in a facility in Burbank, California, as the esports league takes another page out of the traditional sports playbook.

With Nanzer at the helm, the Overwatch League built itself into a leader in the value of league-based sponsorship sales, ESPN said, citing sources familiar with the finances of the top esports leagues.

In his move to Epic Games, Nanzer inherits Fortnite, a game that has withstood challenges from various fronts, but a competitive esports scene that has been besieged by cheating. For example, in just the first week of the Fortnite World Cup, Epic Games said that it had banned 1,221 accounts for various offenses.

Epic Games specifically said that Nanzer will be working on Fortnite esports, but there is also a possibility that he will lend a hand with Rocket League. Earlier this month, Epic Games acquired Psyonix, the developer behind the vehicular soccer game that has a robust competitive scene.

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