This will be a Philly pro team like no other, with players sporting gamer tags like "Boombox," "Carpe," and "Neptuno."
Comcast Spectacor announced on Friday the 12 players and gamer tags for the city's new e-sports franchise, Fusion, that will compete against other teams, playing the Overwatch video game.
Fusion's starters: Isaac "Boombox" Charles of the United Kingdom, Jae "Carpe" Hyeok Lee of South Korea, Joona "fragi" Laine of Finland, Georgo "ShaDowBurn" Guscha of Russia, Giuseppe "Joemeister" Gaetano Gramano of Canada, and Gael "Poko" Gouzarch of France.
Comcast Spectactor senior vice president Jim Pekala said the "cornerstone players" for Fusion's first year are Lee, Guscha, and Gramano, obtained from the FaZe Clan, an established team on YouTube. They "gave us credibility in the e-sports space" to recruit other players in a whirlwind 40 days since the company disclosed that it had acquired the Philadelphia e-sports franchise, Pekala said.
Hugely popular with millennials, e-sports are growing as traditional sports audiences have fragmented and aged, executives say. There are about 35 million Overwatch video gamers, with 300,000 to 500,000 in the Philadelphia region.
Fans will watch the Fusion players play Overwatch streamed over Twitch or televised. Comcast Spectacor will pick a venue for Fusion, perhaps at a local college, with thousands of seats. Comcast Spectacor, based in South Philadelphia, owns the Flyers and operates stadiums such as the Wells Fargo Center.
Pekala said connecting with Philadelphia fans will be challenging for the first year because all the games will be played in Burbank, Calif. "It's something that keeps us up at night," he said. But he said the Fusion team will make five Philadelphia appearances and Fusion marketing videos will be shown during Flyers games.
Comcast Spectacor announced in mid-September that it had acquired the Philadelphia franchise for the new Overwatch league, whose big-money backers include the owners of the New England Patriots (Bob Kraft) and New York Mets (Jeff Wilpon).
The backers said it was the first city-based professional e-sports league, which could enable it to replicate the model of traditional sports with city teams playing against others.
The Overwatch league has no national deal to televise the Overwatch games. But the league announced its first league-wide corporate sponsors: Hewlett-Packard and Intel.