MLB Team Owner Invests $20 Million To Help Buy An Overwatch League Franchise - Report

Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman is investing in Blizzard's new gaming league.


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Another Overwatch League franchise has been sold, apparently, with investment help from a big name in traditional sports. ESPN is reporting today that OpTic Gaming has raised millions from a group led by Neil Leibman, who co-owns the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball.  

According to the report, OpTic Gaming is paying $20 million for the Overwatch League franchise in Houston, Texas. The fee will be paid over time, apparently, though terms of the deal were not divulged. 

Leibman is the second higher-up attached to the Rangers to reportedly invest in an Overwatch League team. Kenneth Hersh, an oil magnate who is on the Rangers board of directors, supposedly put $35 million into Team EnVyUS to help get the rights for an Overwatch League franchise in Dallas, Texas.

Leibman and Hersh add to a growing list of high-profile Overwatch League team owners or investors. Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots, owns the Boston-based Overwatch League team, while New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon owns the New York-based franchise. You can see a rundown of all of the confirmed Overwatch League team owners here.

Also in ESPN's report is word that OpTic Gaming has reached the second phase in the application process to join the revamped North American League of Legends Championship Series. If successful, OpTic will pay $13 million for its permanent spot. 

Announced at Blizzcon last year, the Overwatch League kicks off later this year. For the league's first season, matches will take place at a venue in the Los Angeles area. There will eventually be home and away matchups, just as with traditional sports. Full details on the schedule and ticket sales opportunities will be announced later this year.

The Overwatch League is the first major international pro eSports league with a city-based structure. This is a big step for competitive gaming, as it brings it more in line with traditional sports leagues, though Overwatch League is unique in that teams from different countries will compete in certain events.

Overwatch League teams will make money through ticket sales, advertising, and broadcast rights revenue. According to Blizzard, this money will be shared evenly, though local teams get to keep all the revenue from their home territory and venue up to "a certain amount." If/when this figure is eclipsed, a percentage will be given to a shared league revenue pool. Another element here is that franchises can operate and make money from five non-professional events in their home region every year.

Additionally, there will be league- and team-based Overwatch content sold in the game, with 50 percent of revenue going to a shared revenue pool for all teams.

The minimum base salary for Overwatch League players is $50,000. By comparison, under the structure of one new League of Legends league, players earn a guaranteed salary of at least $75,000.

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