An interview with Nate Nanzer, the commissioner for the Overwatch League, was held at the end of the Overwatch League Media Day on January 9th.
Nate Nanzer spoke about the preparations for Overwatch League and the league system, while also touching on the subject of the quota for Korean players in franchises. Nanzer asserted that since Overwatch League is meant to feature the very best players, “each team should have the most outstanding players instead of prioritizing what their hometown is.” Nanzer proposed that an abundance of Korean players may be good for all those competing, saying that “ by playing with Korean players, pros from other areas can adopt their strength and desire for victory.”
Following is the interview with Nate Nanzer.
Blizzard announced Overwatch League for the first time at last year’s BlizzCon. The regular season is going to start tomorrow; how much of your original goal do you think you have accomplished?
I think we got much farther than we first aimed for 2 years ago. But I think we haven’t done even 1% of what we meant to ultimately accomplish (laughs). We are very excited and look forward to showing Overwatch fans what we have prepared.
Tomorrow is just the beginning. We are going to take on more challenging goals starting from tomorrow in order to make it a better league. I believe that the League can get better since everyone on the team of over 100 people is trying very hard for it. Tomorrow will be the matchup between the Seoul Dynasty and Dallas Fuel, and since it’s held around lunchtime in Korea, it will be convenient for Korean fans to watch the game.
The games will be held between home teams and away teams; how did you come up with this?
The biggest advantage is that fans can watch the games live. South Korea is special since there are many talented esports players. We chose to use this system because we wanted to share the experience with many fans globally. If you look at traditional sports, fans get together to support their teams while new fans are added, and there are profits made as they play home games. I think the League will be helpful in this way.
Many owners of traditional sports organizations are trying to merge esports into traditional sports. Is there any benchmarking system for this?
I think each owner of each organization has various plans via the Home and Away system. What Blizzard came up with for making profits is to first sell tickets for games. Also, various other products will be sold. Not only that, I think teams can hold additional events by themselves and earn profits.
Since the first season is held in Burbank only, the Home and Away system seems just theoretical for now. By when do you think the stadiums for each city will be built?
We plan to carry on the plan once all teams are ready. I believe that we need time for each organization to build up potential in order to make this come true before we actually use the Home and Away system.
In the case of the LPL in China, they do a national tour for franchises in 3 places. If more than half of the teams have their own stadiums built, do you plan on adopting the Home and Away system soon?
No. We are aiming to use Home and Away for all teams at the same time.
Then it is also possible that Home and Away won’t be implemented in 3 years.
We will try to implement it as soon as possible, and I hope we can do that within 3 years.
You announced that you will be broadcasting via Twitch, and will be providing it in English, Korean, and French. Do you also plan to provide German or Spanish? And we’d like to know why Chinese isn’t provided.
We will be providing the broadcast in Mandarin. We also plan to provide it in Taiwan. For now, we provide the broadcast in 4 languages such as Korean, Mandarin, English, and French. We plan to provide Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian in the future.
With German, we found out that most German players watch the streams in English so we don’t feel there’s a great need for it. However, we will be adding it if that is what many people want.
Since there are three teams comprised of only Korean players in the Overwatch League, some people feel that franchises aren’t really representing the local cities. Do you plan to continue not having any quota in the future?
I personally hate putting restrictions on recruiting foreign players. I believe that a player not being able to represent a certain city just because he wasn’t born there does not make sense in sports. What we are aiming for is the Premier League for Overwatch. Each team should have the most outstanding players instead of prioritizing what their hometown is. This part is most important to us. As long as the players are outstanding players, where they are from does not matter and they should
If you look at traditional soccer, Arsenal has a history of having their starting lineups made up of all French players. I think that no matter the sports fans or esports fans, everyone would want to see the plays of the best players. What the fans of the London Spitfire want to see is high-quality games and team London winning. And I think what’s important is that we have 113 players representing 17 countries.
To add more to this, the esports infrastructure in South Korea is well-developed. Players here are mentally stronger and have a more powerful desire to win. Esports will eventually grow globally. By playing with Korean players, pros from other areas can adopt their strength and desire for victory. Moreover, we believe that this will improve the quality of esports overall.