The Overwatch League: Everything you need to know

On January 10, the Overwatch League began its inaugural season, bringing professional esports to several major cities around the world and pitting the best players in Blizzard’s popular hero shooter against each other in a multi-stage competition. Unlike the structure of other esports leagues, the Overwatch League’s 12 teams each represent particular regions, giving fans a chance to root for their hometown favorite as they would in traditional sports, and it’s set to be among the most high-profile esports leagues in existence. Here is everything you need to know about Overwatch League.

What is the Overwatch League?

Overwatch League is developer Blizzard Entertainment’s own professional esports competition, pitting 12 teams from 11 cities around the world against each other in a 20-week season that is capped off with playoffs featuring the top six teams and a grand final in July. All matches will be held at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles for the first season.

Twelve matches will take place during each week of the season, with each team playing twice from Wednesday through Saturday for 40 matches per team, per season. This is substantially longer than other esports leagues such as the North America League of Legends Championship Series, which only runs for nine weeks per season.

At the conclusion of each five-week stage of the regular season, title matches take place between the top four teams with a prize pool of $125,000. At the end of the regular season, the six teams with the best regular season records will advance to the playoffs. The top seed in each of the two divisions will receive a first-round bye (check current standings here). All players receive, at minimum, a $50,000 salary during the season, and the top team will take home at least $1 million in prize money. Players will take home at least 50 percent of team bonuses, as well.

These figures are nowhere close to the cost of joining the league, however. According to ESPN, smaller-market teams can join for around $15 million, while those in bigger cities could pay even more.

Each team must have at least six players on its roster in order to compete in an Overwatch match, with no more than 12 allowed in total. Thus far, most team rosters have multiple substitutes, though only three teams have full rosters. Each player will be signed to a one-year contract with a second-year option.

Though the impact that The Overwatch League will have on competitive Overwatch overall remains to be seen, it could pave the way for more international focus on esports as a whole, where South Korean players dominate the current landscape. According to Cloud9 president Daniel Fiden — behind the London Spitfire — the regional approach will help cultivate top-level players around the world (and specifically beyond Seoul).

How can I watch it?

The Overwatch League has partnered with Twitch to broadcast every single match to fans for the league’s first two seasons. Twitch will be the exclusive third-party broadcaster of The Overwatch League in all countries except China, and streams will be available in English, Korean, and French. Broadcasts will be available for the regular season as well as the playoffs and championship.

Dedicated fans will also have the opportunity to use special Overwatch “cheermotes” within Twitch chat, and exclusive in-game items will be given to “the most steadfast viewers,” as well.

Stay updated on the go

An Overwatch League smartphone app is now available for both iOS and Android devices. The app not only offers information on the latest scores and overall standings for the season, but also access to special videos and new from the league.

If you sign into your Blizzard account in the app, you can also follow your favorite teams and set alerts for whenever they’re about to play so you never miss a game again. The app even allows you to choose which language to watch game streams in, and you can choose to automatically hide scores so you aren’t spoiled on any games you missed.

The teams

The Overwatch League consists of 12 teams across the United States, Europe, and Asia, divided into two divisions: Atlantic and Pacific.

Atlantic Division

Boston Uprising

Head coach: Dae hee “Crusty” Park

Players:

Name Handle Role
Nam-Ju Gwon Striker DPS
Stanislav Danilov Mistakes DPS
Jonathan Sanchez DreamKazper DPS
Lucas Meissner NotE Flex
WooYul Shin Kalios Flex
YoungJin Noh Gamsu Tank
Mikias Yohannes Snow Support
Kristian Keller Kellex Support
SeHyun Park Neko Support
Connor Prince Avast Support

Florida Mayhem

Head coach: Vytis “Mineral” Lasaitis

Players:

Name Handle Role
Kevyn Lindström TviQ DPS
Andreas Berghmans Logix DPS
Tim Bylund Manneten Flex/DPS
Johan Klingestedt CWoosH Tank/Flex
Sebastian Olsson Zebbosai Support
Aleksi Kuntsi Zuppeh Support
Joonas Alakurtti zappis Flex/DPS
Sung-Hoon Kim aWesomeGuy Tank
Jeong-Woo Ha Sayaplayer DPS

Houston Outlaws

Head coach: Tae-Yeong “TaiRong” Kim

Players:

Name Handle Role
Matthew Dias Clockwork DPS
Jiri Masalin LiNkzr DPS
Jake Lyon JAKE DPS
Lucas Håkansson Mendokusaii DPS
Matt Iorio coolmatt Flex
Alexandre Vanhomwegen SPREE Flex
Austin Wilmot Muma Tank
Daniel Pence Boink Support
Christopher Benell Bani Support/Flex
Shane Flaherty Rawkus Support
Russell Campbell FCTFCTN Tank

London Spitfire

Head coach: Beoum-Jun “Bishop” Lee

Players:

Name Handle Role
Ji-hyuk Kim birdring DPS
Joon-yeong Park Profit DPS
Dong-eun Lee Hooreg DPS
Jun-ho Kim Fury Flex
Seung-hyun Sung WOOHYAL Flex
Chan-hyung Baek Fissure Tank
Jae-hee Hong Gesture Tank
Hyeon-woo Jo HaGoPeun Support
Won-sik Jung Closer Support
Choi-tae Seung Bdosin Support
Jong-seok Kim NUS Support

New York Excelsior

Head coach: Hyun Sang “Pavane” Yu

Players:

Name Handle Role
Jong-yeol Park Saebyeolbe DPS
Do-hyun Kim Pine DPS
Hye-sung Kim Libero DPS/Flex
Tae-hong Kim MekO Flex
Jun-hwa Song Janus Tank
Dong-gyu Kim Mano Tank
Sung-hyeon Bang JJoNak Support
Yeon-joon Hong ArK Support

Philadelphia Fusion

Head coach: Yann “Kirby” Luu

Players:

Name Handle Role
Jae-hyeok Lee Carpe DPS
Josh Coronoa Eqo DPS
George Gushcha ShaDowBurn DPS
Hong-joon Choi HOTBA Flex
Gael Gouzerch Poko Flex
Joona Laine Fragi Tank
Isaac Charles Boombox Support
Jeong-hwan Park Dayfly Support
Joe Gramano Joemeister Support
Alberto Gonzalez neptuNo Support
Simon Ekström snillo DPS (inactive – underage)
Su-min Kim SADO Tank (inactive – suspended)

Pacific Division

Dallas Fuel

Head coach: Kyle “KyKy” Souder

Players:

Name Handle Role
Timo Kettunen Taimou DPS/Flex
Hwang Hyeon EFFECT DPS/Flex
Brandon Larned Seagull DPS/Flex
Pongphop Rattanasangchod Mickie Flex
Christian Jonsson cocco Tank
Félix Lengyel xQc Tank
Sebastian Widlund chipshajen Support
Jonathan Tejedor Rua Harryhook Support/DPS
Minseok Son OGE Tank
Dylan Bignet aKM DPS
Dong-Jun Kim Rascal DPS

Los Angeles Gladiators

Head coach: David “dpei” Pei

Players:

Name Handle Role
Lane Roberts Surefour DPS
Joon-seong Choi Asher DPS
João Pedro Goes Telles Hydration DPS
Aaron Kim Bischu Flex
Luis Galarza Figueroa iRemiix Tank
Jonas Suovaara Shaz Support
Benjamin Isohanni BigGoose Support
Chan-Hyung Baek Fissure Tank

Los Angeles Valiant

Head coach: Joshua “dzMins” Kim

Players:

Name Handle Role
Christopher Schaefer GrimReality DPS
Brady Girardi Agilities DPS
Terence Tarlier SoOn DPS
Ted Wang silkthread DPS
Kang-jae Lee envy Flex
Pan-seung Koo Fate Tank
Seb Barton numlocked Tank
Benjamin Chevasson uNKOE Support
Stefano Disalvo Verbo Support
Young-seo Park KariV Support
Indy Halpern SPACE Flex (inactive – underage)

San Francisco Shock

Head coach: Brad Rajani

Players:

Name Handle Role
André Dahlström iddqd DPS
Andrej Francisty babybay DPS
Dante Cruz Danteh DPS/Flex
Andreas Karlsson Nevix Flex/DPS
David Ramirez nomy Tank
Daniel Martínez Paz dhaK Support
Nikola Andrews sleepy Support
Jay Won sinatraa DPS (inactive – underage)
Matthew DeLisi super Flex (inactive – underage)
Grant Espe Moth Support
Minho Park Architect DPS

Seoul Dynasty

Head coach: Baek Kwang-jin

Players:

Name Handle Role
Byung-sun Kim Fleta DPS
Sang-beom Byeon Munchkin DPS
Seok-woo Choi Wekeed DPS
Joon-hyuk Chae Bunny DPS
Gi-do Moon Gido DPS/Flex
Jae-mo Koo xepheR Flex
Joon-hyuk Kim zunba Flex
Jin-hyuk Gong Miro Tank
Dae-kuk Kim KuKi Tank
Jin-mo Yang tobi Support
Je-hong Ryu ryujehong Support/Flex
Jin-Woo Heo Gambler Support

Shanghai Dragons

Head coach: Chen “U4” Congshan

Players:

Name Handle Role
Weida Lu Diya DPS
Chao Fang Undead DPS
Junjie Liu Xushu Tank/Flex
Wenhao Jing Roshan Tank
Dongjian Wu MG Tank
Yage Cheng Altering Support
Zhaoyu Chen Fiveking Support
Peixuan Xu Freefeel Support
Weida Lu Diya DPS
Junijian He Sky Support
Gihyeon Chon Ado DPS
Eui-Seok Lee Fearless Tank

Uniforms and in-game currency

The uniforms for each team in The Overwatch League are designed with the team’s logo in the center, as well as the league’s logo in the bottom right corner (for those wearing it.) An example can be seen below:

So they can be easily identified during matches, each team also has special in-game skins for every character available in Overwatch, corresponding to the colors of their real-life uniforms. To aid the spectator experience, in-game user interface and particle effects have also been altered to match team color schemes. These correspond to each of the uniforms worn be teams’ players, and will be available for purchase by everyone using a special, new in-game currency. The proceeds from sales will go to support the corresponding teams, though Blizzard will give enough tokens for every player to purchase one complimentary skin in early 2018 when the league launches.

What about existing Overwatch tournaments?

The Overwatch League is only possible because Blizzard’s premier shooter already has a globally popular tournament scene, atop which the new league will sit. Anyone who rises sufficiently in the game’s Ranked competitive play mode will be eligible for the Open Division, which will be divided into several tournaments for top-level amateurs who may hold professional aspirations.

The winners of these Open Division tournaments will go on to compete in Overwatch Contenders tournaments in seven regions around the world. In addition to the current Contenders tournaments in North America and Europe, this will include three existing, previously non-Blizzard tournaments in Korea, China, and the Pacific, as well as new regional tournaments in South America and Australia.  Performing well in Contenders tournaments will be the best shot that aspiring pros have of being scouted by Overwatch League teams.

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