The Overwatch League begins its second season on Thursday, and the two OWL teams in L.A. -- the Gladiators and Valiant -- "not only have gotten a head start in building a fan base in their home city, they have already cultivated the best rivalry in the league," according to Arash Markazi of the L.A. TIMES. Activision Blizzard Esports CEO Pete Vlastelica said L.A. is the "hub of esports in North America so it’s one of the few markets that could support two teams, so it made sense to have two teams here and have a built-in local rivalry." OWL crowds at Blizzard Arena, where the league currently hosts most of its games, often "resemble traditional sports crowds when rival cities face each other." The league has "not shied away from adopting a traditional sports model, with some of the owners invested in more traditional sports teams." The Gladiators and Valiant both realize the way to "capture the hearts of the city is no different than any other team in the market -- they have to win." OWL Commissioner Nate Nanzer: "I don’t think we’re that far away from seeing a level of passion for these teams and this rivalry compare to traditional sports in the city." When OWL teams move into their home markets and arenasin the coming years, the Gladiators are "expected to move into the amphitheater being built next to the future home of the Rams and Chargers, while the Valiant are expected to move into The Novo at L.A. Live" (L.A. TIMES, 2/10).
Envy Gaming President & COO Geoff Moore believes the esports industry will soon "become a combination of traditional sports, touring bands and music festivals," according to a Q&A with Dom DiFurio of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Moore also said that he believes the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, where his OWL Fuel franchise is based, has "developed into a major esports hub." Moore joined Envy Gaming last summer, and said he "knew there was a big potential audience" for the Fuel. Moore: "We knew that the Fuel was a popular team in the league -- sold the most jerseys, had great audience numbers on their games, things like that. We knew there was interest." Moore calls OWL a "global league," which means teams "act less like a traditional, geo-locked sports team." He said of OWL, "We think of it like a music festival because we also don’t just have one team. We don’t just play in one league and one game." He said of Texas-based esports fans, "The experience you give them is what sets your brand with those audiences." Moore: "North Texas has a lot of aggressive, smart entrepreneurs. There’s been a lot of investment in esports. It’s been brought here primarily because of the investors. They see a lot of opportunity. That’s the original reason this has become such a hotbed." Moore also noted the "strong corporate presence here," and with a rich marketplace, there is a "lot of potential for events and teams" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/9).