NoLibs esports company N3rd Street Gamers has partnered with videogame publisher Blizzard Entertainment in a bid to officially include its popular Overwatch game in N3rd Street’s upcoming National Championship Series.
As part of the deal, N3rd Street will reach a half-dozen cities with the Overwatch National Championship Series. Amateur players from Philadelphia, Denver, Boston, Arlington and Washington, D.C. will be able to compete for prize pools of up to $50,000. The NCS Grand Finals will take place in October at N3rd Street’s Localhost Arena gaming hub in Denver.
At the end of last year, the NoLibs company announced the National Championship Series as a 10-city esports competition series that would include titles like Overwatch. So what’s the news here?
The difference is that now the competition is officially sanctioned by Blizzard, which also makes the likes of World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, in a move that narrows the gap between pro-level and amateur competitions.
“Overwatch has an incredibly strong competitive community that has been demanding more local tournaments since the game’s launch,” N3rd Street CEO and founder John Fazio said. “We’re incredibly proud and humbled to have the support from Blizzard and the Overwatch League to launch the Overwatch National Championship Series.”
While the company declined to disclose financial terms of the deal, N3rd Street Gamers comms head James Love said the deal provides players at the T3 level (a competitive tier of gamers on their way to pro-level) with more opportunities to compete.
“The fact that the arrangement is with Blizzard, known for making some of the most recognizable video game titles around, raises the profile of our local engagements,” said Love.
Philly was among the first U.S. cities to have an official team in the Overwatch League: the Philadelphia Fusion, which is owned by Comcast Spectacor. Fusion president Tucker Roberts said local tournaments in the amateur circuit were key for the team.
“Supporting the T3 scene has always been a top priority for the Fusion,” Roberts said. “Overwatch League is the first major global city-based esports league, and we are committed to growing the Philadelphia community. Ever since our Hometown Heroes event, we’ve seen tremendous turnout for amateur competitions in our market.”