The Overwatch league is on the road.
The league of esports introduced by video game publisher Activision Blizzard last year has announced that its young league Overwatch will move to hometowns starting in 2020.
This change will allow the 20 teams in the league to play in venues in their host cities and to compete in road games against competitors.
The announcement was made at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin on Friday.
At the dawn of its second season, the league – including Blizzard's first-person shooter video game "Overwatch" – is currently hosting all team games live at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.
"We have been working on this challenge for two years now, and I think a lot of the structure of the league today will make sense when we go to 2020," said Nate Nanzer, commissioner of the league. the Overwatch League, in an interview with USA TODAY 'HUI.
The league is divided into two divisions – Atlantic and Pacific – with 10 teams in each division. Nanzer said the schedule is set for teams to compete more often with their opponents in their own divisions, as do traditional sports leagues.
The inclusion of teams in several countries, including two European teams, one Korean team and four based in China, complicates planning.
Nanzer said the teams would work the same way as traditional sports teams, where one could, for example, embark on a west coast swing to play against teams in those areas.
"We believe that we have developed a planning model to make the overall vision a reality, while minimizing the impact of round trips on the movements of teams and players," he said.
Ticket details and ticket prices should be communicated individually by the teams later this year, Nanzer said.
The move to a hometown competitive structure is a key part of the Overwatch League, which, according to Nanzer, is "a huge success" since its inaugural season in 2018. The league has recruited two main sponsors: Coca-Cola and State Farm .
Nanzer added that the number of viewers had increased during its second season, reaching 13 million viewers during its opening weekend, an increase of 30% over last year.
In addition, for its second season, the league has grown from 12 to 20 teams, adding markets such as Washington, DC, Paris, Toronto and Atlanta.
Fans will have a taste of the Overwatch League in their city during a series of "Friends Weekends," which will kick off with an event in Dallas next month. Similar events are planned for Atlanta in July and downtown Los Angeles in August.
Nanzer said switching to standard games at home and away from home should help teams build roots in their communities and strengthen their fan base.
"The same reason why it's more fun to watch a game in Dodger (Los Angeles) than watching a Dodger game on TV is the fact that you're there with 40,000 other people who also love them. Dodgers, and you have a shared experience and connection coming from cheering on the team, "he said. "And sports are not different."
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Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.