The Overwatch League’s video-gaming finals will be held this year at the Wells Fargo Center, according to published reports and sources.
Esports, the watching of highly skilled gamers competing with each other for titles or prize money, has soared in popularity globally, particularly in Asia but also in the United States. The Overwatch League replicates the legacy professional sports model with 20 city-based franchises in China, South Korea, Canada, France, England, and the U.S. catering to local fans.
The Overwatch Grand Finals on Sept. 29 are expected to boost esports awareness in Philadelphia as Comcast Spectacor breaks ground this summer on a $50 million esports arena, near Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park and the Wells Fargo Center.
The arena will be home to the Comcast Spectacor-owned Fusion team in the Overwatch League. Tucker Roberts, son of Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, runs the team’s business operations. The Fusion Arena will not be open in time for this year’s Overwatch League championship.
Comcast Spectacor had no comment on Friday.
Activision Blizzard, which owns the Overwatch League and video game, couldn’t be reached immediately for comment. Activision officials reportedly informed team owners of the decision in the last several weeks. ESPN broke the story.
Activision Blizzard has estimated that 400,000 gamers in the Philadelphia TV market — which includes South Jersey, Delaware, Philadelphia and its suburbs, and areas of Pennsylvania going out to Harrisburg — play the Overwatch video game.
The Overwatch League sold 20,000 tickets for its two-day Grand Finals at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2018. This year the finals are expected to take place in one day. The seating capacity for Wells Fargo is about 20,000.