Franchise Fees for Overwatch eSports Teams Could Soar

May 11, 2018

By Christian Smith

Franchise fees to get into season three of the Overwatch League could reach $100 million dollars for investors that don't make the cut for season two.

That's according to eSports expert Rod Breslau, better known as "Slasher" in the gaming community.

"There is a fear of missing out," Breslau said in an interview Friday with Cheddar. "So I think a lot of these big brands and sports teams in North America and in Europe are going to want to get in now."

The 12 teams that played in the inaugural season, which kicked off last December, only had to pay $20 million to Activision Blizzard, the company that created Overwatch.

But the cost of entry for new teams has spiked along with interest in the game. Overwatch League averages 80,000 to 170,000 concurrent viewers on streaming platform Twitch, and it's brought in $150 million in sponsorship and broadcasting rights deals.

ESPN first reported that new teams will have to pay between $30 and $60 million in fees for season two, numbers Breslau says his sources confirmed.

The Overwatch League announced on Wednesday that it will host the debut season's Grand Finals at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY from July 27-28.

Some serious cash is on the line at the championship event. The winning team will receive a $1 million bonus - with nine to 12 players on each team, that works out to a haul of upwards of $100,000 each, in one weekend. The runner-up gets a cash boost of $400,000, and the third and fourth place teams will each haul in an extra $100,000.

For anyone new to the world of eSports, Overwatch is a first-person shooter game that was released on May 24, 2016 by Blizzard Entertainment, the same company behind the popular World of Warcraft franchise. Two teams of six players face off in a robot-filled, near-future Earth. Overwatch League teams are allowed to have six additional players that can be swapped between matches.

The Overwatch League is currently comprised of 12 teams - nine American ones (Boston, Dallas, Florida, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and two from Los Angeles) and three international (London, Seoul, and Shanghai). Teams are split between the Atlantic and Pacific divisions. Players make a minimum base salary of $50,000, receive housing during the season, healthcare coverage, and a retirement savings plan according to the Overwatch League's website.

The top six teams this season will go head-to-head in the Grand Finals at the Barclays Center. Breslau says he's confident that New York's team will bring home the first-ever Overwatch League trophy.

"New York Excel champions season one, no problem. They're going to beat, I would say, the London team in the finals," Breslau said.

For the full interview, click here.