Everyone's talking about the Overwatch League right now and for good reason: fans watched in their droves when it launched yesterday after months of hype.
The inaugural season of the Overwatch League features the best teams in the world. For the first season, 12 franchises are representing major cities in Asia, Europe, and North America, from Boston Uprising to Los Angeles Gladiators, Seoul Dynasty to London Spitfire and others.
The teams met in combat for the first time during the pre-season from December 6th to 9th.
According to Eurogamer, more than 350,000 viewers tuned in to watch the League matches on Wednesday night on Twitch, the streaming platform which has just signed a deal with Blizzard to broadcast the matches.
"London was one of the top cities I was looking at right from the get-go. I wanted a really large market that could get support."
Jack Etienne, Cloud9
Games are also being broadcast on MLG, the Overwatch League website and app, and a new tab in Blizzard's Battle.net desktop app. Plus, ZhanQi TV, NetEase CC and Panda TV are expected to be the official broadcasting platforms of the Overwatch League in China.
Yes there has been some criticism around the so-called global league being very focused on the US and teams not having seemingly a lot to do with each region, i.e. London Spitfire fields an all-Korean roster of players (which, let's face it, isn't unlike football and its focus on international players regardless of club).
We're willing to give Acti-Blizz the benefit of the doubt here. Yes we know what they're like, a bit controlling and money-focused, but which mega corporation isn't nowadays? If the Overwatch League delivers, and is fun to watch, that's fine by us.
The first season of the Overwatch League will run until June, with playoffs and finals scheduled for July. For the inaugural season, all games will take place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles. Fans can purchase tickets to attend matches, which will be played each Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, said: "With 12 first-class teams representing major cities from Asia, Europe, and North America, we're confident that the inaugural season of the league is going to redefine what people expect from esports—and be a giant celebration of the Overwatch community as a whole."
Looking at London Spitfire in particular (which is run by Cloud9 and has partnered with UK esports agency Code Red to develop a home arena and fan zones here), there have been a number of developments this week.
The official blue-themed London Spitfire in-game skins are now available for purchase in the Overwatch store, the team is about to play their first match (against Florida Mayhem) and popular British Overwatch streamer Stylosa has joined the team:
— London Spitfire (@Spitfire) January 11, 2018
Talking of skins, all players who log into Overwatch between now and February 13th will receive enough League Tokens to obtain a team uniform of their choice free. Skins are available for all 12 teams, and all 26 Overwatch characters, with 50% of the revenue from every Overwatch League skin sold going toward a shared revenue pool for all league teams.
So make sure you log in and support the Spitfire!
Cloud9 founder Jack Etienne told Cynopsis eSports & Gaming why he got involved with the Overwatch League and London: "It was something that I had wanted to a long time, a long-term partnership with a publisher in a league that had revenue-sharing where we were building something together on a large scale. When it was first presented to me, I was like 'this is what I've been working toward for years.' I just knew that I needed to be part of this thing.
"London was one of the top cities I was looking at right from the get-go. I wanted a really large market that could get support.
"There were only two cities in the world where I wanted Cloud9 to host a team and London was one of them."
Whatever your opinion on London Spitfire, we say let's get behind the boys in blue and see how far they can go.
Ooh to, ooh-to-be, ooh-to-be-a, Spitfire!