Esports are big business – and BC is on the crest of the wave.
Now in its second season, the OWL is a professional esports league for the video game Overwatch, produced by Blizzard Entertainment. The video game currently has more than 40 million players worldwide. Players in the OWL make a mandated minimum salary of $50,000 (USD), while many star players make more than six figures.
Overwatch is an online team-based first-person shooter game with a roster of 30 playable characters. Two teams of six go head to head in modes that require them to work together to attack, defend, or complete a specific objective.
Currently in their debut season, the Vancouver Titans broke records after going undefeated for 19 straight matches and claiming the OWL title of Stage 1 champions. After a loss to the Los Angeles Valiant, the win streak has now ended, but the Titans are still one of the strongest teams in the league.
Although the Titans are a new franchise, the roster was formerly the South Korean powerhouse team RunAway before the Aquilini Group signed all 8 players (plus one additional player) and, according to sources at ESPN, purchased a slot in OWL for an estimated $30 to $60 million (USD). That’s why the team’s green and blue colour scheme should look familiar; they share the same owners as the Vancouver Canucks.
The OWL features 20 teams from across the globe, a $5 million (USD) total prize pool, and sees sponsorships from companies like Coca-Cola, Toyota, and StateFarm. After the regular season and stage playoffs, the season ends in a grand championship game as the two overall best teams compete for a $1.1 million (USD) prize.
Esports are big business. According to a study by Newzoo, revenues in 2019 from global esports will surpass $1 billion, a figure that will continue to grow as esports’ popularity climbs.
Matches are typically held at the Blizzard Arena in California with a live audience, but beginning in 2020, home games will be played in each team’s respective city. Titans fans will soon be able to cheer their team on at the Rogers Arena, just like the Canucks.
Editor’s note: We are pleased to have Jonathan McGill covering the Titans and OWL for The Orca. Watch for his reports on a regular basis.
Jonathan is a video game enthusiast and fan of the Overwatch League esports scene. By day, he’s a graphic designer and communications specialist in Burnaby, but at night he plays main tank as Orisa in Overwatch.