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Blizzard's 'Overwatch' League Starts Today—Here's What You Need to Know

The popular team-based shooter is poised to become one of the biggest esports in the world.

Overwatch League
Joe Scarnici / Stringer / Getty

A new sports season starts today, but it's not for football or soccer. Instead, it's the first day of the Overwatch League.  For those who might not be aware, Overwatch is a 6-on-6, team-based shooter by Blizzard Entertainment in which players assume the roles of different heroes with different abilities to work together and complete objectives. Because every hero has different strengths and weaknesses, teamwork is vital for success.

Why Is This a Big Deal?

Overwatch is already a hugely popular, competitive video game, with millions of players across PC and consoles. With esports tournaments like the Dota 2 International and Street Fighter's Evo Championship Series already getting mainstream attention, Blizzard is investing a ton of money into making sure Overwatch is one of the biggest esports in the world with massive prize pools (over $3 million!) and high production values. A number of famous names have already invested money in the league's teams, like Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Strahan, and Marshawn Lynch.

The Teams

The league is currently split into two divisions with six teams in each, consisting mostly of American teams with a few international teams thrown in. The Atlantic Division contains the Boston Uprising, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, and Philadelphia Fusion; while the Pacific Division has the Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, and Shanghai Dragons.

The Schedule

Following the Preseason last month, the Overwatch League kicks off tonight with the San Francisco Shock facing the Los Angeles Valiant at 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST. The first season lasts until June 16, followed by the playoffs for the Overwatch Championship. Matches are broadcast live from Wednesday to Saturday each week.

Where to Watch

While some esports events have been hosted on TV channels like TBS and ESPN, the Overwatch League will stream exclusively online. While half of the league matches will broadcast on MLG.tv (which is owned by Activision Blizzard, which is also Blizzard Entertainment's parent company), the only site to broadcast all of the league's matches will be Amazon's popular online streaming service Twitch. Amazon reportedly paid Activision Blizzard $90 million for the broadcast rights, which (if accurate) makes this the biggest broadcast deal in the history of esports.

The Overwatch League Twitch channel can be found below:

Watch live video from Overwatch League on www.twitch.tv.

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