Mets COO Jeff Wilpon will be a major player in the upcoming Overwatch League, Blizzard Entertainment’s unique twist on the team-based shooter’s competitive scene.
Overwatch has been an incredible success since its release on May 24, 2016. It has amassed over 30 million players and $1 billion in sales worldwide, across Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Amazin’ Avenue sister site Polygon even recently spun up an Overwatch community called Heroes Never Die. While it has dabbled in eSports in a typical fashion, Overwatch developer and publisher Blizzard Entertainment is trying an innovative way to continue their eSports venture—Jeff Wilpon will be on board with it.
Typically, eSports teams are organized through different organizations based in different countries—Cloud9 is an American eSports organization, whereas Fnatic is a European organization, for example. There is no base of operations outside of the country of origin for the organizations. Overwatch League is changing that, and that is where Jeff Wilpon comes in.
Overwatch League will have teams based in different cities, with teams using that as their base of operations, a la every major sports team. Wilpon will be the owner of the New York-based team. There are six additional leagues to open Overwatch League: Boston, Miami-Orlando, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Shanghai, and Seoul. The league is rumored to start in Q3 2017.
This is quite bold from Blizzard, as Overwatch has not had great success as an eSport despite its overwhelming popularity. Major eSports organizations, including Fnatic, have dropped out of the scene altogether, and they dropped out in big numbers. Blizzard, on the other hand, is trying something completely new and unique to the eSports scene, and Wilpon is on the front line.
It did not come cheap for Wilpon, as ESPN reported that the San Francisco and Los Angeles-based teams came with a $20 million buy-in—in all likelihood, the buy-in for a team based in New York City would equal that amount, or possibly even surpass it.
This news was unexpected and, in a word, surprising, but it is certainly an interesting business opportunity for Jeff Wilpon.