The Overwatch League put forth a promise to bring regular sports business models into esports. With Home and Away matches being the Selling point for the League, it holds potential in the eyes of Overwatch league investors. However, during the entirety of Season 1, all Overwatch League matches took place in the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.
This weekend will be the first time any OWL franchise will get an opportunity to host their ‘Home’ game. The Dallas Fuel will be playing the first ever Home match against Los Angeles on the 28th of April 2019. There are three homestead weekends, one in each stage starting from Stage 2.
Eight teams will compete at the Allen Event Center, which is the Dallas Fuel Home stadium for the season. By the start of next year, all the teams will be required to play half of their games in their home venues.
This is the first time that the Overwatch league will take place anywhere other than the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles. The Allen Event Center is a versatile sports and event venue located in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The Allen Event Center is situated near one of the largest mixed-use developments in the U.S., with ample parking, hotel accommodations, restaurants, and retail within a short distance.
The Allen Event Center will have around 4500 people in the audience and tickets for the event are already sold out. There will be a total of eight teams [ out of the total twenty] playing at the venue over the weekend. The distribution of teams presents a steady mix of Pacific Division as well as the Atlantic Division teams.
The teams participating in the Dallas Fuel Homestead are Dallas Fuel, Paris Eternal, London Spitfire, Seoul Dynasty, Hangzhou Spark, Chengdu Hunters, Houston Outlaws and the LA Valiant. This includes five Pacific Division teams and three Atlantic Division teams. These teams are pretty much in the middle of the leaderboards for Stage 2. Every match and map will matter to the team’s and we can expect top tier gameplay at Homestead.
It is an honor to have Dallas selected as the first team to bring Overwatch League matches into a home market. Texas is where I was born and raised. I know our home crowd will want to be a big part of this experience and fans from all around the world will have a chance to make esports history with us in North Texas. We will deliver an experience and weekend of entertainment that lives up to Texas standards.
Mike Rufail, owner of the Dallas Fuel.
In addition to the games themselves, there will be a weekend-long series of events. These include autograph signings with Players from the Overwatch League teams. Fans will queue up to meet their favourite players at the venue. The enthusiasm in the ticket sales suggests a good turnout at the venue. In addition to the autographs, the Homestead weekend will also feature sponsor exhibitions & family friendly activities.
The whole premise of the Overwatch League and its success relies on efficient organisation of the Home and Away format. This is the first Home match for any team in the Overwatch League. Ensuring fans come out in numbers and have a good time at the venue is crucial for the league’s success in the future. We can hope to see more and more fans come out regularly.
This is going to be an incredible weekend on a number of levels: local gaming enthusiasts are going to get a can’t-miss event in their backyard, Overwatch fans will have the opportunity to travel to North Texas for a historic weekend of matchups, and the streaming audience from around the world will get to join in on the excitement. We’re thrilled that our first-ever home match is part of a two-day Overwatch League festival that will showcase this region’s passion for esports and make for a unique debut among the storied Dallas sports franchises.
Geoff Moore, president of the Dallas Fuel.
Jeff Kaplan has confirmed that the OWL will not be adding more teams until they get the Home-Away format to work seamlessly. It is important for the Overwatch league not to franchise out until they perfect their Home and Away format.
— Mike Rufail (@hastr0) April 24, 2019
For regular sports investors, the familiarity of the ‘Home and Away’ system is crucial. They have adequate knowledge on how to get fans from their homes to visit their home stadiums. Loyal fans attending home games is important from a team’s financial perspective. It allows the sale of merchandise, premium seating tiers and more brand visibility for their sponsors. It opens up new revenue streams for teams which have invested tens of millions of dollars for the Overwatch league franchises.
With Blizzard having total control over the Overwatch league, they can decide the path ahead for the League. So far, it does seem promising with many mainstream media companies already focussing on the Overwatch League. Fans can view the Homestead matches live on Overwatch League’s Twitch Channel. However, they will also find primetime on mainstream media channels such as ESPN and ESPN 2. ESPN will also be broadcasting a two-hour program, including the match between Dallas Fuel and Los Angeles Valiant. They will also have a post-match show much in tune with the regular sports coverage.
The Overwatch League is not reliant only on ESPN as its mainstream broadcast media. Overwatch League is also live on other channels such as DisneyXD and ABC Channels. The DisneyXD channel plays a crucial role in the overall plan for the League.
[Disney XD] is a cable network that has a much younger audience. I think Overwatch as a game is broadly appealing, it’s much more stylised graphically. Being on Disney XD I think gives us an opportunity to get in front of younger fans and build fandom around our league from younger ages, which is really exciting.
With the audience for DisneyXD being the 12-17-year-old, it is an important outlet for the Overwatch league. The Overwatch player base is mostly very young players and it overlaps with the DisneyXD viewer base.
There are various ways in which the Overwatch League is curating its content for the TV audience. ESPN regularly features educational videos which teach the viewers the importance of maps and basics of the game. It is a welcome move to bring in more viewers who are not aware of Overwatch and its gameplay.
The Homestead weekends are a precursor to Season 3. The difficulty in the Overwatch League Home and Away format lies in the intercontinental Travel for teams. The Overwatch League aims to solve this problem by streamlining the schedule to reduce travel costs for teams.
However, at the same time, teams will learn from the first Homestead weekend and try to understand how to improve the entire experience. The Dallas HomeStead weekend tickets are already sold out and we will see a record audience for the weekend.
For fans who are unable to attend the event at the venue, you have a variety of options to watch the broadcast from home. Overwatch league will be live on their Twitch channel as well as DisneyXD and ESPN. Where will you be watching the Homestead weekend? Let us know in comments below.