Paul Hamilton, President and CEO of Atlanta Esports Ventures, attends the 2018 Overwatch League Grand Finals in New York. Courtesy the Overwatch League.

Cox Enterprises backing new Atlanta esports team

Atlanta is one of the latest cities to join the esports group Overwatch League, with Cox Enterprises and Province, Inc. joining forces as owners and operators, the league announced Thursday.

The move reflects the growing popularity of the Overwatch League, which recently sold out the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the finals of its inagural season, and the allure of the Atlanta market.

“We always had our eye on [Atlanta], from the beginning,” said Pete Vlastelica, the President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. “It’s just a matter of when.”

The Overwatch League is an international esports league with teams originating from Boston to Shanghai. The teams compete against each other playing the popular first-person-shooter video game Overwatch.

The development of the team will be overseen by Paul Hamilton, President and CEO of Atlanta Esports Ventures, a partnership between Cox and Province. Hamilton was a founding principal of Province.

Atlanta’s appeal as a home for a new team stemmed from its demographics. Vlastelica and Hamilton pointed to the city’s rapid growth, relative youth and diverse culture as reasons for targeting it in this round of expansion. Research shows the Atlanta area is also home to a high amount of skilled Overwatch players, Vlastelica said.

The next steps for the team will be working on creating a name and branding, Hamilton said, as well as finding a coach. For now, the team will have to be housed in Burbank, California, where the league is based. Eventually, Hamilton said, the goal is for all teams to be based in their home cities.

Cox, which is the parent company of multiple media properties, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has not made any plans at this time for a relationship between its media companies and the team. Currently, the Overwatch League has deals with Twitch, a live streaming platform owned by Amazon, and ESPN, which broadcasted the league’s championship in July.

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