This week in esports: Overwatch League, EnVyUs, Betway and VfL Bochum

It’s been a huge week of news in esports, both from a business side and consumer side. News of the Overwatch League has been long overdue and finally Blizzard has revealed a start date, as well as confirming the final three slots for the inaugural season. Away from Overwatch and EnVyUs has secured huge investment from an oil tycoon, Betway and NiP have rekindled their romance and VfL Bochum has become the first Bundesliga 2 team to enter esports through FIFA

Overwatch League confirms 12 cities and start date

Image courtesy of Blizzard

Although still later than initially planned (quarter three of 2017), the Overwatch League preseason fixtures will get underway on Wednesday December 6th 2017, with the official season starting on Wednesday January 10, 2018. 

Additionally, Blizzard has revealed that Philadelphia, Dallas and Houston are the final three destinations for the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. The Philadelphia franchise will be owned by sports and entertainment company Comcast Spectator, which manages stadiums, arenas and venues across the world and also owns the Philadelphia Flyers, a professional hockey team. 

The two Texas franchises will be heading to two more familiar faces. Team EnVyUs, following news of large investment and a relocation to Dallas will indeed be taking the spot in Dallas. EnVyUs are a team that have been in Overwatch for a long time and have kept faith. Their current roster is considered up there with the best so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them enter the inaugural season with very few changes.

The other franchise in Texas will be Houston. The Houston franchise will be taken up by esports juggernaut OpTic Gaming, a team very well versed and highly regarded in FPS titles already. The fan base, dubbed the “green wall” are amongst the most raucous in esports so this is a move that will most definitely generate interest.

Read the full article here.

EnVyUs secure huge investment

Team EnVyUs has confirmed a large multi-million investment from the Hersh Interactive Group. The figure is believed (according to ESPN reports) to be around $35,000,000 (£25.9m) and is comfortably one of the largest investments in an esports team to date. 

The deal was confirmed on Twitter last night by owner Mike “Hastr0” Rufail, saying “Confirming for all of you today that we have accepted a multi 8-figure investment from a great new partner in the Hersh Interactive Group”. 

He stated further: “I will continue to be the principal owner and operator of the team. I’m not going anywhere. In many ways, we’re just getting started. In addition, I’m coming home to Texas and bringing the entire team with me. Get ready Dallas, we have some neat things on the way”. 

The funding is led by Hersh Interactive Group, headed up by oil and natural gas tycoon Kenneth Hersh. The relocation to Dallas comes as the team purchased the Overwatch League Slot for the city, as aforementioned.

Read the full article here.

Ninjas in Pyjamas and Betway are officially back together

Guess who’s back? Back again? Betway’s back. Tell your friends. That’s right, the bookmaker has resigned a sponsorship deal with Ninjas in Pyjamas after a relatively small break due to Riot rules and regulations. 

The bookmaker and the team terminated their arrangement following NiP’s decision to enter League of Legends, and game developer Riot’s rules regarding teams and gambling industry sponsors.

There was considerable outcry at the decision, with Betway one of the leading bookmakers in the space, a fully regulated one at that and one that understands the space. The partnership had proven a popular one; the Betway Esports team has created a great deal of strong content, competitions and more, whilst its Twitter channel is a consistent source of fun. The sponsorship was also amongst the largest esports has seen, with a ‘high six figure’ fee. 

It comes as Ninjas most likely leave the League of Legends scene once more to reassess, thus leaving the organisation with their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team who have recaptured some form of old as of late, albeit with a new look roster.

Read the full article here.

VfL Bochum 1848 become the first Bundesliga 2 team to enter esports

VfL Bochum 1848, the German football team currently residing in the Bundesliga 2, has announced the signing of two FIFA players marking its move into esports.

It becomes the first club from the second tier of German football to make a move into the burgeoning esports space. There’s now a fair few German clubs involved, and we would expect further activity across the FIFA space as a whole with rumours suggesting that every top tier football club across Europe may be required to have a FIFA player on their books. 

The two players signed by VfL Bochum 1848 esports come from STARK, arguably the leading agency for clubs looking to enter esports through the FIFA medium. The club will gain strategic and operational guidance from STARK, and STARK players Michael “MgaBit” Bittner and Daniel “DaniFink” Fink will represent the club. 

Read the full article here.