Las Vegas Sun

November 18, 2018

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Henderson firm behind Overwatch League esports expansion team

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Terrin Waack / AP

Philadelphia Fusion and London Spitfire compete in the Overwatch League Grand Finals’ first night of competition Friday, July 27, 2018, at the Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

Days after 20,000 fans packed the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the Overwatch League Grand Finals, the esports league is expanding.

Henderson-based financial consulting firm Province Inc. and Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises — owner of Cox Communications — have joined forces to fund the 13th team in Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League.

The expansion team will be the Atlanta franchise in the league, but details, such as its name and logo, are still being finalized.

Atlanta joins other cities including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London and Shanghai in the year-old league.

“Atlanta is one of these cities where you want to own a sports team or an esports team,” said Paul Hamilton, a longtime Las Vegas resident and founding principal of Province Inc. “It’s got this really strong crossover hybrid of youth but also really strong business backbone.”

Activision Blizzard hopes to have 16 teams in league for Season 2, Hamilton said.

Matches feature two teams squaring off in a six-on-six format, playing Overwatch, a multiplayer, first-person shooter video game. Teams can have up to 12 players on their rosters.

“It’s truly a team game, just like any traditional sport,” Hamilton said. “If you’re playing this game and a couple of your teammates aren’t playing well and the other team is, you have no shot at winning.”

Regular-season matches are played at a studio in Burbank, Calif., but plans are for teams to host matches in their home cities as the league progresses, Hamilton said.

Season 1 ran from January to June, with playoffs June 17 to July 28. The league’s All-Star Weekend is scheduled for Aug. 25-26.

Season 2 is expected to follow a similar schedule.

The Atlanta expansion team is in the process of hiring a head coach and other key staff members before it signs players, Hamilton said.

“They are truly building this as a regular sport,” Hamilton said of the Overwatch League. “They are city-based teams with logos and franchises and the ability of the fans of those cities to get behind their team. The production quality is off the charts.”

Last week, the London Spitfire took down the Philadelphia Fusion to win the league’s inaugural championship and its share of a $1.4 million prize pool. The event was televised on ESPN.

“It was as loud as I’ve heard at any event,” Hamilton said. “The fan energy was incredible, with the Barclays Center being sold out. Not just that, walking around New York for those few days around it, seeing Overwatch jerseys everywhere in the city, it was incredible.”

Editor’s note: Sun publisher Brian Greenspun and his family are investors in the team.