Misfits owner Ben Spoont, KSV COO Kent Wakeford talk joining the Overwatch League

by Daniel Rosen Jul 13
Thumbnail image courtesy of Misfits

Even though the first seven Overwatch League teams have been announced, there are still plenty of questions that have yet to be answered about how the league will look.

We still don't know much about the logistics, players or even the start date. What we do know though is that there's a fairly interesting variety when it comes to the ownership groups. Misfits, NRG Esports and Immortals are all endemic esports teams, while Robert Kraft and Jeff Wilpon come from sports backgrounds, and NetEase and KSV eSports International, Inc.'s management come from a more traditional, non esports gaming background.

Misfits owner Ben Spoont says that the collection of ownership groups excites him, and he's particularly interested in working alongside KSV and NetEase, who are the two ownership groups that do not have prior experience in either sports or esports.

"I trust for those two specifically that Blizzard has vetted their gaming experience and ability to create a proper gaming infrastructure properly," Spoont said. "These are all folks that know the gaming industry, but in terms of building actual esports infrastructure, I trust that they will hire or acquire all the proper aspects in order to scale their businesses to a point where they are able to function the way that we all expect them to. But we're really excited to work with them. Ultimately, we are... we're all in this together and so happy to support them in any way possible."

KSV was founded by former co-founders and employees at Kabam, a mobile game publisher that is best known for developing Marvel: Contest of Champions, and it will operate the Seoul spot in the Overwatch League. KSV COO Kent Wakeford told theScore esports that the group was attracted to the Seoul spot because of the popularity of esports in South Korea.

"[Our CEO] Kevin was fortunate to meet up with Blizzard and Nate Nanzer and have a conversation and express his passion, not just for esports, but for how to take the entire esports industry and move it forward," Wakeford said. "He's a big believer in that, I'm a believer in that. I think that we've, in our past at Kabam, we were able to really innovate in new areas. And we were hoping to kind of bring some of that passion for innovation to esports and continue to grow the market. And what better place to do that than Seoul, the birthplace of all esports."

Though KSV are not currently based out of Seoul, Wakeford noted that KSV plans to move headquarters to Seoul, with a small presence in San Francisco.

"Our commitment is to build this company in Seoul," Wakeford said. "We are building a company on the ground in Seoul. We will have an executive team, a management team, a player roster that is all South Korean. And that is our focus and our commitment."

The Overwatch League's first season will be played entirely in Southern California, though Blizzard has stated that they plan to transition the league into a home and away game system. Considering that five of the announced teams are based in North America and two are based in Asia, the logistics of flying teams back and forth for home and away games is a challenge, but both Wakeford and Spoont believe that Blizzard will be able to create a successful global league despite that challenge.

"So of course, yeah look, you don't want people going from LA to Miami to Europe to Korea to China week to week to week to week," Spoont said. "That's a significant drain on the players well-being, and they know that, and I am confident in their ability to create the proper schedule to avoid that."

In a press release, Blizzard said that they plan that each team in the Overwatch League will receive an equal share of the league revenue, in addition to keeping some local revenue from merchandise and ticket sales each year. Though both Spoont and Wakeford did not share details as to how much investment was required for a spot in the Overwatch League, Wakeford thinks that the revenue earned will greatly surpass the initial costs.

"We spent a lot of time with our own financial teams looking at the opportunity financially, and we believe that it is a big opportunity," Wakeford said. "And that the returns will far outweigh the investment."

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.