The reveal of the first seven Overwatch League franchises Wednesday gave fans their first palpable information about the league's structure since it was announced back in November, with three established esports organizations and four newcomers making up the league's initial batch of teams.
But the announcement is also significant for what it doesn't say: several of the purchasing non-endemic organizations do not have rosters, and names like Team EnVyUs, Rogue, eUnited, and Laser Kittens — which were not part of Wednesday's announcement — remain in play.
Laser Kittenz CEO and founder Ali "Alicus" Saba, however, doesn't seem worried. He told theScore esports that he has been working for months on an entry to the Overwatch League for his organization, either through securing funding or partnering with someone who has a spot already.
"Over the last few months, we have been in talks with multiple high profile [venture capitalists] from a variety of regions, so in that sense we have been part of the conversation. As in, we had people talk to Blizzard and explore the opportunity," he said. "Even now, we are still in talks with entities, some of which were announced as owners today."
Saba formed Laser Kittenz in March 2017 after nine months as general manager of Misfits. His organization has since added several sponsors including Nvidia and private jet charter marketplace Jetsmarter. While securing the funding for a bid is an option, he said, it is not the only one. He noted that some rosters, including potentially his own, could instead opt to play under a different organization depending on the offer.
"Our branding assets are just an option. Obviously with the amount of capital that's being put down for OWL, there is going to be a shift in ownership for teams in our position. We are exploring options of all kinds and will settle for the deal we feel is best for all of us. Whether that is taking on funding for our business plan or closing shop and playing under a different banner remains to be seen."
Another intriguing detail offered by Saba is that while the team was not targeting a specific city market in OWL, he had approached some potential investors in the Middle East regarding the opportunity the league represents.
"I had no specific city market in mind. That's not to say that the city is irrelevant to me — no. Of course it matters, but most importantly I wanted to see the full extent of my options. I even went local and spoke to some big players from the Middle East," he said. "There's definitely a lot more interest, globally, than what was announced today. Really pumped to see how it all plays out until the launch of the league."
Saba could not confirm whether Blizzard had signaled that they were open to a franchise in the Middle East.
A report from ESPN Esports in May, citing unnamed sources, claimed that the buy-in for the Overwatch League was a minimum of $20 million, with larger markets selling for more. Saba did not comment on the actual cost of the buy-in, and when asked whether he felt the cost was the reason that teams like nV and Rogue were not part of Wednesday's announcement, he said he'd prefer not to speculate on their motives.
"We don't know if they even planned to raise that kind of money at all. For all we know, maybe they've been waiting to sell the rights to the roster. Maybe they're in the process of securing a spot. Maybe they're in our position. I wouldn't worry too much. I'm sure we'll at least see many of the familiar faces from those teams," he said.
As for Laser Kittenz, Saba claimed, cost has not been a major issue.
"It's all about picking the best deal for us at this point."
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.