Overwatch League has been esport’s success story of 2018. Despite not knowing whether the competitive community would take to their hit shooter, Blizzard invested heavily in the infrastructure needed to make the competition a success.
It has certainly paid off. Hundreds of thousands are still tuning in to watch live matches, the Blizzard Arena is still full on matchdays and there is plenty of interest among Overwatch’s best players to get involved.
Of course, this is owed to the hefty Overwatch League prize pool. The prizes on offer in emerging esports scenes tend to be fairly small. However, Blizzard has invested heavily in ensuring that their competitive league is an immediate success.
Overwatch League prize pool: How much do champions get?
With teams paying a $20 million franchising fee to buy in to the Overwatch League and streaming platform Twitch having paid $90 million, the biggest streaming rights deal in the history of esports, for the rights to the competition, Blizzard seemingly had plenty going spare.
That is evident in the Overwatch League prize pool. Blizzard have been paying out $125,000 to each stage champion since the season began. So far, $375,000 has been awarded, with New York Excelsior taking $250,000 of it. Another $125,000 will be awarded to the Stage 4 champion too.
However, the big money is awarded following the postseason title matches. The team that emerges victorious from the grand finals will be awarded $1 million.
Likewise, an additional $2 million will be distributed according to where teams finish in the table, much like the model used in traditional sports competitions like football’s English Premier League. These bonus payments will range from $25,000 to $300,000, ensuring that every team is rewarded for participating in the inaugural Overwatch League season.
1. Stage 1 final prize pool – $125,000
2. Stage 2 final prize pool – $125,000
3. Stage 3 final prize pool – $125,000
4. Stage 4 final prize pool – $125,000
5. Grand final prize pool – $1 million
Could Fortnite’s $100 million investment stop Overwatch League in its tracks?
Epic Games recently announced that it would be investing $100 million in Fortnite esports prize pools during its first year of competitive play.
This will be the largest prize pool investment by a single developer in the history of esports. It will also be far superior to what Blizzard has invested in the first year of Overwatch League. The total Overwatch League prize pool for the inaugural season stands at just $3.5 million, tiny in comparison to what Epic has promised.
Thankfully for Blizzard, Fortnite doesn’t quite encroach on its market. They’re two very different games and we’re unlikely to see Overwatch League’s players jump ship for a new game like many competitive scenes have in the past.
However, given the popularity of Fortnite at the moment, there is every chance that a well-developed competition could claw some of OWL’s viewership away. This would in turn see sponsors jump ship too.
Although, Epic has yet to announce what they plan to do with this $100 million. They may decide to create a major competition like Overwatch League, or bump up the prize pools of the minor Fortnite tournaments that have already started to appear.
Until we know more, it’s impossible to say what this might mean for Overwatch League.
What is clear is that other developers are stepping up their game as the esports scene continues to grow. In order to build on the success of the first season, Blizzard needs to do the same.