Blizzard is holding its annual fan gathering in Anaheim in a few months, and among that convention’s many events is the first international World Cup for the company’s new shooter.
The Overwatch World Cup begins October 29 with a round-robin group stage that will lead into a single-elimination tournament to determine the top country in the world. The publisher will hold the final rounds at BlizzCon November 4 and November 5 in Anaheim. With the World Cup, Blizzard is pushing Overwatch deeper into the esports scene. As a competitive, team-based shooter from the company that created Starcraft, the shooter already has a strong chance of establishing itself alongside games like League of Legends. Overwatch could bring in additional revenues for Blizzard from the $493 million esports market, but the publisher would prefer to build an entertainment product that can serve as a platform for marketing the game. The World Cup is an exhibition, so it has no prize pool. But the top 16 teams will receive an appearance bonus and Blizzard will pay for their travel to BlizzCon.
The nation-versus-nation setup of the World Cup could help Blizzard kick off that Overwatch esports platform in full. Even if you don’t have a favorite esports club, this event gives you a team to root for and an introduction to the players. Fans could come out of this event with a new favorite Overwatch pro that they will want to follow into league play.
And the top markets for esports viewership are all represented in the World Cup. Blizzard has already held qualifying rounds to determine which 16 countries will compete in group stage. Fifty countries and regions around the Earth participated before the competition whittled the field down to these World Cup-qualifying nations:
- Australia/New Zealand
- South Korea
- United States of America
I’m so ready to go into this tournament and root for Team USA, and I bet people around the world feel the same about their teams. That could mean big viewership numbers for Blizzard from obvious markets like the U.S., China, and South Korea. But this tournament also features teams from growing esports markets like Brazil and Russia.
Unfortunately, my former team, Montenegro, didn’t qualify. I’m not from Montenegro, but — like the Olympics — you can pay to compete form anywhere.