Blizzard Entertainment has been releasing more information on the upcoming Overwatch League in the past months, and we’re starting to get a clearer picture of some key details. First, we heard about a registry of outstanding players being collected for teams to peruse. Then, we heard about Overwatch Contenders and the Overwatch Open Division. Finally, we met the investors making up the seven founding teams of the Overwatch League. Now, we’re getting key details from Blizzard about the players that will make up the League.
Blizzard explained some of the important facts regarding player eligibility and pro play. “Players associated with established Overwatch teams—even teams from organizations that have been announced as part of the Overwatch League—are not automatically signed to those rosters.” Blizzard explained in a press release. “By the same token, the Overwatch League does not preclude eligible players from joining any League team because of a previous team affiliation, as long as they are legally able to join.”
In short, every player is a free agent for the purposes of the Overwatch League, ranging from your humble 1400 ranked Tracer main to a superstar signed to a top team. “Players will be considered members of an Overwatch League team only when they sign the Overwatch League Player Agreement with the team of their choice and it is approved by the Overwatch League.”
The press release further elaborates on the process of officially signing players to Overwatch teams. “We are opening an official player signing window for Season 1 from August 1 to October 30, 2017. All announced Overwatch League teams will be able to sign players to contracts during this time, including teams that join the League during the signing window.”
This is an unorthodox way to handle free agency and player sign ups, but this will be the first (and only) time this method is utilized for the Overwatch League. “It’s important to note that this system for selecting players will be unique to the League’s first season. In future seasons, the pre-season player signing process will be updated to serve the needs of an established league, its teams, players, and fans.”
Team founders like Noah Whinston of Immortals have expressed their intention to keep their existing rosters, so the above doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see any massive roster shakeups during the upcoming player signing window.
Once a player is officially signed to the Overwatch League, they can expect the following benefits included in their Overwatch League Player Agreement.
Teams will sign players to one-year guaranteed contracts with the option to extend the contract for an additional year.
The minimum salary for players is USD $50,000 per year.
Teams will provide players with health insurance and a retirement savings plan.
Teams will distribute at least 50% of their team performance bonuses (i.e. money from winning playoffs and other League events) to their players directly.
Teams, of course, will have expectations and obligations. These include:
Each team roster must have at least six players and no more than 12 total.
Teams will provide player housing and practice facilities during the season which will meet professional standards set by the Overwatch League.
Interestingly enough, there will be no region locking for players based on place of birth or home country.
Overwatch League Season 1 will have $3.5 million USD in bonuses available, with a minimum prize of $1 million awarded to the eventual champion.
We can expect more details on the upcoming Overwatch League in the coming weeks, but we now have a better idea of what to expect regarding player signing, prize pools, and region locking. The Overwatch League is still slated to begin before 2018.