The league’s 20 teams, strewn across 19 cities and six countries, will travel between global venues during the regular season.

The Overwatch League’s 2020 season is getting the professional sports treatment.

On Saturday (February 8), the third annual competition for Activision Blizzard’s (NASDAQ:ATVI) popular multiplayer first person shooter game kicked off with a brand new city-based home-and-away format, not unlike the setup used by NBA and the NHL.

With the changes, the league’s 20 teams, coming from 19 cities and six countries, will travel between global venues during the regular season. This year’s prize pool sits at a total of US$5 million.

The move from Overwatch comes shortly after the Call of Duty League launched the home-and-away format in January.

“We want it to become something that’s broadly appealing, something that a new viewer or casual viewer can latch on to or understand,” Call of Duty League Commissioner Johanna Faries told The Verge.

Activision Blizzard’s share price saw little movement from market close on Friday (February 7) to the start of the trading session on Monday (February 10), when it opened at US$61.41.

The season’s format is not the only change for this year’s competition.

In late January, YouTube, the video-streaming division of Google, which is owned by public conglomerate Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), announced it would be the new broadcaster for Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch matches, taking the spot of Twitch as the exclusive streaming platform for the league.

Twitch, owned by Washington-based tech giant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), originally signed a two year deal valued at a reported US$90 million to stream all the events for the popular gaming league in 2018.

Shares of Alphabet were at US$1,477 when the market opened on Monday.

This season of the competition started with games in New York City, New York, and Dallas, Texas, with teams from France, Canada, the US and the UK.

Some of the teams have publicly traded owners, including Beasley Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:BBGI), which owns the Houston Outlaws; Chinese video-sharing website bilibili (NASDAQ:BILI), which backs the Hangzhou Spark; and NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES), which is the owner of the Shanghai Dragons.

The Vancouver Titans, a competing team that is partially backed by Ontario-based Enthusiast Gaming Holdings (TSXV:EGLX), made it to the Grand Finals during last year’s season but was defeated by the San Francisco Shock 4-0.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Danielle Edwards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.


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