Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer Leaving For Epic Games
Overwatch League Commissioner NATE NANZER announced Friday that he "would be leaving the company" this week to start a new position with Epic Games, where he will "oversee competitive esports initiatives for Fortnite," according to H.B. Duran of THE ESPORTS OBSERVER. Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues President & CEO PETE VLASTELICA will take over the commissioner role (ESPORTSOBSERVER.com, 5/25). The AP's Jake Seiner noted OWL is "set to fulfill Nanzer's ultimate vision by launching a global home-and-away format next season." The majority of its regular-season matches thus far have been held at Blizzard Arena in Southern California. Nanzer, a '19 SBJ Forty Under 40 honoree, tweeted he "can't emphasize enough how proud I am of what we've all accomplished together" (AP, 5/24). ENGADGET's Jon Fingas noted the OWL "might not change much with Nanzer's departure," as Vlastelica has been "around for a while, and it's well-established." However, Nanzer's arrival at Epic "might be a vital move." Fortnite has a "massive number of players, but only a fledgling esports initiative." If the competitive scene grows, it "could sustain interest in the game and reel in pro players who might drift to other games" (ENGADGET.com, 5/25).
FOUNDING FATHER: ESPN.com's Jacob Wolf noted Nanzer, one of the founders of the OWL, was pitching Blizzard VP/Head of Development JEFF KAPLAN in '15 on the "idea of an esports league" for Overwatch, which was set to launch the following May. Since its launch, OWL has "become one of the foremost esports leagues in the world" (ESPN.com, 5/24). THE VERGE's Andrew Webster noted OWL was first announced in '16, with an "ambitious vision for an e-sports league that mimicked traditional sports, complete with teams based in major cities around the world." This pitch "managed to lure big-name owners, and Nanzer was a driving force behind this, as well as other important league initiatives, including scheduling changes designed to improve player wellness" (THEVERGE.com, 5/25).