Barclays Center Nabs Overwatch Final

Two teams from first-year esports league to play for share of $1.4M prize pool

  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: May 8, 2018

The first Overwatch League Grand Finals, which will determine the champions of the league’s first global season, will be played July 27-28 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The event follows the Overwatch League’s first regular season, set to end June 17, and the postseason, which will begin with a field of six teams July 11 at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles in Burbank, Calif. The two finalists from that tournament will face off at the Barclay’s event to battle for a share of the $1.4 million prize pool.

The league, consisting of 12 teams representing cities and owned by Blizzard Entertainment, was founded last year. Teams compete in the video game “Overwatch,” developed and published by Blizzard.

Barclays Center’s Keith Sheldon, executive vice president of programming for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, said, “It is a two-day event of gameplay between the final two teams in Overwatch League. The teams will play a best-of-three series, similar to what you would find in a traditional sports league.”

The first match will be played July 27, and the second (and third if necessary) will be played July 28. Sheldon expects every session to sell out. Fans can buy tickets to individual sessions or a package for the whole event.

Tickets will go on sale March 18. Pricing has not yet been determined.

“When the prospect became real, we went after it aggressively,” Sheldon said. “We think the Overwatch (owners) are doing a phenomenal job building out their platform. It’s a unique platform that is city-based and global, and it just so happens that the New York franchise is doing particularly well this year, so we’re fortunate that New York has a potential dog in the fight.”

Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer said in an email, “Our overarching goal for the Overwatch League Grand Finals is for it to be an epic experience, for thousands of fans on site and millions of viewers around the world.

“To do so, and to effectively convey that this event is the pinnacle of esports, we needed a world-class venue like Barclays Center in a global destination like New York.

“Venue management at Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment has been fantastic in helping us celebrate not only the league’s two best teams, but the fans, partners, and players who have joined us on the incredible journey of our inaugural season.” 

Sheldon said the preliminary event-build of the designs for the show “looks spectacular.”

“One of the great things about these esports events is that it combines incredible production elements you get in a major concert with the drama and intrigue of a stick-and-ball sporting event,” he said.

Sheldon does not anticipate any logistical challenges. “Our IT is top notch and ready for the kind of usage that an esports event will bring,” he said, citing the fact that Barclays Center has already hosted ESL One, the East Coast’s largest esports tournament.

There are no plans for any new F&B items. “Our Taste of Brooklyn has offerings for every type of appetite,” he said. “Potentially we will attract people who have never been to Brooklyn before, and it will give them an opportunity to sample a taste of the borough.”

“We’re just thrilled that they selected us,” Sheldon said. “Gaming has become one of the biggest sports in the 18-25 demographic in the U.S. and this is the type of audience a brand can built around. We’re excited to do more with global esports brands.”

The contract is for one year, but Barclays Center would be “thrilled to host them every year,” he said. “It is our intention to make Barclays Center the premier destination for esports events in the world.”

  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: May 8, 2018