Blizzard 'integrates' MLG to form new esports division dedicated exclusively to Overwatch

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Blizzard said in November 2016 that it planned to launch an Overwatch League this year, with the aim of building it into the "world's premier esports league." Today it took a big step toward making that happen with the announcement of a new, dedicated division "that will handle management, operation, sales, and distribution for Overwatch esports programs, including the Overwatch League and Overwatch World Cup." 

As part of that initiative, Major League Gaming, which Activision acquired in 2015 for $46 million, will be fully integrated into Blizzard, although it will continue to operate under the MLG name. "It will also operate the MLG-branded media network, which will broadcast both Blizzard and Activision esports content as well as other premium gaming programming," Blizzard said. "In addition, the associated teams and technologies will serve as the operational foundation, partnership hub, and media-production network for the Overwatch League as well as Activision’s Call of Duty World League." 

Aside from the vague commitment to broadcasting "other premium gaming programming," Blizzard didn't comment on how the "full integration" of MLG might impact its support for other, non-Activision games. But it's clear that Blizzard sees Overwatch as the next big thing, head and shoulders above the rest: Blizzard's existing esports division will continue to "directly manage and operate" all other games, including Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft, although it will take advantage of MLG's "capabilities for media production, sales, and distribution" to support them. 

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.