Professional e-sports league with salaried players and ties to NFL begins its season in Burbank

The Overwatch League, billed by organizers as the first major global professional e-sports league with competition organized by cities, begins play Wednesday with three matches at the former NBC Studios in Burbank.

All the league’s matches for its first season will be played at The Burbank Studios’ Blizzard Arena, whose capacity is about 400-500 and is sold out for matches Wednesday and Saturday, according to Kevin Scarpati, the Overwatch League’s associate public relations manager.

The league is aiming to play matches on a home-and-away basis “as soon as possible,” Scarpati said.

The league has two teams representing Los Angeles: the Los Angeles Gladiators, owned by Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke and his 37-year-old son Josh, and the Los Angeles Valiant, owned by Immortals, a Culver City-based e-sports organization.

The Valiant will face the San Francisco Shock in the opening match, set to begin at 4 p.m., while the Gladiators will face the Shanghai Dragons at 6 p.m. in the second match. The final match will pit the Dallas Fuel against the Seoul Dynasty at 8 p.m.

Other team owners in the 12-team league include the Kraft Group, which also owns the NFL’s New England Patriots, Comcast Spectacor, the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, and Jeff Wilpon, the son of New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon.

Overwatch is a six-versus-six, team-based first-person shooter game where team members work to eliminate or repel opponents to make an attack on an objective or defend an objective.

The league’s minimum base salary is $50,000. Players will compete for $3.5 million in performance bonuses. The league also provides players with housing during the season, along with healthcare and retirement savings plans.

All matches will be streamed on the social video service Twitch in English, Korean and French, MLG.com, the MLG app, OverwatchLeague.com, and the Overwatch League companion app.

The regular season will run through June, with playoffs in July.

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