Following the announcement of the founding seven teams of the Overwatch League, Blizzard has released a statement regarding the players who will make up the league. The statement covered player salaries, contracts, benefits, and bonuses.
Technically, all 30 million Overwatch players of eligible age are considered free agents. Teams are obviously not going to be scouting platinum matches, but still. If you own a copy of Overwatch, you can potentially be signed by a team as a Free Agent.
Players on Overwatch teams, even those in the League (NRG, Immortals, Misfits), are not automatically signed to the team. Players are only considered a member of the Overwatch League when they sign a Player Agreement with their team. So, there are no contracted players yet. Even members of announced teams are not officially a part of the team, even if they have a contract with the organization.
The player signing window will be open from August 1 to October 30. This signing process is unique to Season 1, according to Blizzard, as it will be updated for next year’s preseason to reflect “the needs of an established league, its teams, players, and fans.”
To get to what players will be looking for, the league announced generous terms for contracted talent. Every player will sign a one-year contract, with an option for another year. Blizzard did not clarify if this is a team or player option. The league minimum is $50,000 per year, and players will be provided with health insurance and a savings plan. On top of their base pay, teams are required to distribute 50% of all winnings from playoffs and League events to their players. This is quite a hefty bonus, as bonuses available from Season 1 total $3.5 million. Winning the League championship alone grants a $1 million bonus, so $500,000 distributed between the amount of players.
Speaking of which, Blizzard also announced team requirements for team size, housing, and region locking. A roster must have at least 6 players (obviously), but there can be no more than 12. Teams are required to provide housing and practice facilities during the season, and each facility must meet League standards. Furthermore, there is no region locking “in terms of the place of birth or home country of any player.”
The perks of being a League player are clearly evident, so players will be vying for the spots available on the 7 teams. The downside of all this is with the advent of the League, many teams fans are familiar with will be breaking apart, especially those not in the League. Expect many poaching offers to pick up players on teams that have yet to buy in, particularly ones that didn’t perform well in Contenders Season 1.
The lack of region locking is a huge announcement, as players from North America and Europe now have to contend for spots with their Korean counterparts, who have shown (in tournaments like APEX) their skill level is demonstrably better. The fact that each team will basically be able to sign two teams (up to 12 players) will alleviate some of those worries, as there will definitely be room on teams for players who show their skill.
The Overwatch League Launches later this year. Read the full announcement here!