There’s talk it might delay the league’s launch
[Update: Blizzard sent over a lengthy response that can be seen here.]
Starting a professional esports team can be an expensive venture. A spot in League of Legends‘ League Championship Series is going for $1.8 million. However, Blizzard’s sights are set considerably higher as it’s asking more than 10 times that to take part in its upcoming Overwatch League.
According to a report from ESPN, Blizzard is having trouble signing teams for Overwatch League, which was announced at last year’s BlizzCon. ESPN’s sources point directly at the entry fee as the main culprit. Blizzard wants $20 million for a team, with that price increasing in bigger markets like New York and Los Angeles.
The other specifics don’t sound very alluring either. It’s said that teams aren’t guaranteed revenue sharing until after 2021, and that the league would take 25 percent of the transaction if someone decided to sell their team to another party. It should be noted that Blizzard seems to be willing to work with buyers on a case-by-case basis. ESPN mentions that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has a tentative agreement to purchase a team under the condition that his price matches the most favorable price that anyone else buys in for.
While the Overwatch League obviously has issues it needs to work through, Blizzard still seems committed to launching it in late 2017. Sources tell ESPN that they’re doubtful this will end up happening considering how negotiations have been going. We’ll find out in due time.
We reached out to Blizzard seeking comment on: The notion that the franchise fee is too high and that it’s unfavorable to teams; why it’s so high when compared to League of Legends‘s $1.8 million asking price; and the speculation that the Overwatch League won’t launch on time. Blizzard has not responded at time of publishing. We’ll update this story when/if we hear back.
Sources: Teams hesitant to buy into Overwatch League due to high cost, undesirable contract terms [ESPN]