After more than a year of preparation, the first season of Blizzard Entertainment's Overwatch League is set to begin tonight (10 January), following the announcement of an exclusive broadcasting deal with Twitch and the launch of team skins in the hit shooter.
Twelve city-based teams based around the world will duke it out over four, five-week periods between January and June that comprise the regular season. Playoffs and the grand finals will follow in the latter half of 2018.
Twitch will broadcast the competition from the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles for two years in a deal believed to be worth at least $90 million (£66.6 million), according to Sports Business Daily.
At the same time as that deal was confirmed, Blizzard added the Overwatch League skins (basically kits) to the game, revealing the real-world cost of the cosmetic items as well.
There are 12 sets of skins for each team, sold individually for the game's 26 playable characters. If players log-in before 13 February they'll receive 100 free 'League Tokens' that will get them one free League skin of their choice.
After that it costs $5 (£4.49) for another 100 tokens, meaning it will cost $1,555 (£1,397) to unlock every available skin in the game.
Given you wouldn't purchase a kit for every Premier League team for example, few are likely to shell out this much, but it would still cost $125 (£112.25) to unlock all the skins for a particular team (minus one free skin).
Money from the purchases will go toward supporting each team however, rather than going directly to Blizzard.
The twelve teams competing in the Overwatch League's first season are Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfires, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty and Shanghai Dragons.
Week One will kick off with a match between San Francisco Shock and Los Angeles Valiant.
Blizzard's goal with Overwatch League is to offer a new kind of esport in which teams are geographically based as in real-world sports, enabling them to - in theory - foster local support. The plan is for more teams to be added in the coming years and for teams to host their own games locally.
Released in 2016, Overwatch is a shooter with a large cast of characters offering unique abilities and play styles. Teams of six compete in three primary modes: assault, escort and hybrid.