New York Mets and New England Patriots Back Esports League

New York Mets and New England Patriots Back Esports League 642 428 C-Suite Network
Game play in 'Overwatch,' for which a new league will create teams based in certain cities. Esports leagues have until now been borderless, unlike traditional sports.
Game play in ‘Overwatch,’ for which a new league will create teams based in certain cities. Esports leagues have until now been borderless, unlike traditional sports.

Love him or hate him, Robert Kraft has taken the New England Patriots to new heights. Now a major video game marketer is hoping that the CEO of the Super Bowl-winning franchise can lend his magic touch to esports as the burgeoning industry lurches toward the mainstream.

Kraft will own one of seven founding franchises for Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League. The league, which is expected to begin play later this year, eventually hopes to lure 28 teams to compete globally in the team-based shooting game, which Activision-Blizzard says has more than 30 million individual players worldwide.

While other esports leagues are borderless, the Overwatch League will be filled with city-based teams. Organizers hope the setup, which more closely mirrors traditional sports leagues, will make the league more appealing to sponsors and advertisers.

“We think that this is the model that has been missing from esports,” said Pete Vlastelica, a former Fox Sports exec who leads Activision-Blizzard-owned Major League Gaming. MLG operates MLG.tv, an online broadcast network for professional gaming. “It’s a model that we’ve all seen work very well in traditional sports, both in terms of creating fans as well as unlocking value in the form a of ticket sales and venue opportunities and local sponsorships.”

'Overwatch' World Cup Competitors.
‘Overwatch’ World Cup Competitors. Credit: Activision Blizzard, Inc.

The founding franchise owners, which Activision Blizzard announced today, also include Jeff Wilpon, chief operating officer of the New York Mets and a partner of Sterling Equities. Other…