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Volume 27 No. 10
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Overwatch League Kicks Off With Successful Start To New Travel Model

The Overwatch League got its all-important '20 campaign off to a relatively strong start this past weekend after a much-maligned offseason, with announced sellouts at both events and solid viewership on YouTube. The league in recent months has been under intense media scrutiny for a host of issues as it got ready to start its critical third season, which is the first that its new home-away travel model -- a novelty in esports -- is being fully implemented. The first two events of the season were hosted by the N.Y. Excelsior at the 2,200-seat Hammerstein Ballroom and the Dallas Fuel at the 2,500-seat Esports Stadium Arlington. The Excelsior -- owned by the Mets' Wilpon family -- reported sellouts for both days, while the Fuel reported a sellout for just Saturday. Social media buzz indicated that the events went off without a hitch for those who attended. Videos posted on social media showed fans at the events cheering loudly for their home teams and booing away teams, which is part of the vision that Activision Blizzard had for making a geolocated esports series. The first day of action peaked around 100,000 viewers on YouTube, which is the new exclusive platform that OWL is aired on digitally as part of Activision Blizzard’s new strategic partnership with Google. One issue came on Saturday when some viewers complained of a production mishap that mistakenly left a full-screen Cheez-It ad frozen for an extended period of time while missing game action. The next homestand is at Philadelphia next weekend. Previously scheduled matches in China have been canceled for February and March due to the coronavirus.