Premier League teams look to invest in Overwatch League
Blizzard’s newly formed Overwatch League (OWL) is attracting attention from all corners, with news breaking yesterday that Premier League clubs are looking to invest in a team. The Sun reported that Tottenham Hotspur are one of several clubs in talks with London Spitfire, the UK’s sole OWL team at the time of writing, proving once more than big business is excited about the prospect of moving into esports.
Spitfire President Dan Fiden said, as reported in the Sun: “I will tell you that we have not made a partnership with anyone yet. We have had conversations with a number of teams, Tottenham is one of them.” With London home to a number of huge teams, including Arsenal, recently ranked as the 2nd richest in Europe, there are options for the Spitfire, but Fiden was gushing in his praise for the north London team.
“They are an incredibly impressive organisation and what they’re doing in the development is awesome. They really want to invest in the community in a way that is important for us when we think about partnerships.” Fiden went on to say “I think what we intend to do in London has the opportunity not just to make a single space that has our branding”, and with news that Spurs are looking to include an ‘esports theatre’ at their luxury new North London stadium, it seems the two groups may very well have overlapping interests.
The appeal of customisation in-game will not be lost on teams either, with the international competition already demonstrating how much can be altered to suit sponsors
It is worth noting that these teams are among a small group of companies for whom the initial £15m buy-in would not have been a problem, or even really a consideration, such is the wealth of the Premier League. Indeed, the folk at Blizzard may do well to look at the biggest sporting competition in the world and learn from it, as there is a strong argument that marketing and promotion are why the English top division is so popular, rather than the outright strength of the teams involved.
Nate Nanzer, the league’s commissioner, added: “Tottenham have said that as part of their new facility that they want to build an eSports theatre. The story I always tell is I never cared about soccer but then 10-12 years ago and I was like ‘Oh, I get it!’”. While to road ahead is long for the OWL teams, and the initial bidding phase was not as lucrative as Blizzard would have liked, it’s clear big companies are still very interested, and we could even see further franchises in the UK and beyond if the trend continues.
One thing is for sure, Nanzer clearly sees the Premier League as a blueprint for what he would like the OWL to become. He told the Sun “We want to get to the point where it just as common for a family to go to an Overwatch League game as it is today as a football match”, and while that is a lofty ambition, it seems as though the OWL is taking steps in the right direction.
Image courtesty of Alan Stanton