Fri September 08 2017

Blizzard wants to ‘help usher in a new era of competitive entertainment’

by Imad Khan, ESPN

Blizzard Entertainment unveiled the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles on Thursday, a new esports arena in Burbank that will house esports competitions for Overwatch Contenders, Hearthstone, Hereoes of the Storm, World of Warcraft and the Overwatch League. The first event scheduled: the Overwatch Contenders Season 1 playoffs on Oct. 7.

The Blizzard Arena sits at the same location that “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” was filmed. While Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime does feel being near such Hollywood elite is merely a bonus, Blizzard Entertainment has television broadcast plans in its sights.

“We’re currently working with Disney to air the Heroes Global Championship on Disney XP, and we’ll continue to pursue broadcast options that we think are best for our community of players and spectators around the world,” Morhaime said to ESPN.

Some comparisons could be made about the Blizzard Arena and Turner Broadcasting’s ELeague Arena in Atlanta, which has put on tournaments for Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Street Fighter V, but the Blizzard Arena will focus solely on Blizzard titles and opportunities to distribute those esports.

“Our space is spread across three studios and about 50,000 square feet. The Blizzard Arena is a multi-use facility that can be configured to host everything from intimate Fireside Gatherings for Hearthstone fans, to worldwide broadcasts of championship Overwatch events,” Morhaime said.

Additionally, teams will have the ability to use the facilities to practice.

“We’re pretty excited to offer high-quality practice facilities for pro players who will be competing at the Blizzard Arena. We look forward to sharing more details around the Overwatch League and its teams in the near future, but for now I can confirm that all teams competing at the arena will have the option to practice,” Morhaime said.

For Blizzard, opening an arena was the natural next step for esports as viewership continues to grow and investments increase.

“Our intention is to carry that torch and deliver compelling broadcasts that help usher in a new era of competitive entertainment,” Morhaime said.