L.A.'s Two OWL Franchises Have Sparked League's Biggest Rivalry
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 arenas in 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).
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