Houston’s newest professional franchise, of an official professional sport, will make its debut this week:
Not taking the field, court or ice, the Houston Outlaws of the Overwatch League will hit the screen as one of the 12 teams to compete in the opening season of the eSports league.
According to its website, the Outlaws will play in their inaugural regular season match against the Philadelphia Fusion on January 11.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Overwatch is a squad-based combat game in which a team of six players controls a superhero-styled avatar.
An object of the game can be either to control specific points on a map, or to carry a payload from one map point to another. Players can have specific roles, such as Offense, Defense, Support and Tank.
The Overwatch League 40-match regular season runs until June; the top finishers in each six-team division will get automatic playoff berths, while the next four across both divisions will compete to reach the semi-finals, much like the NFL playoffs.
This year, the Overwatch Cup championship match of the League will be held at Blizzard Stadium in Burbank, California, where the winning team will split $1 million.
While the Outlaws recruited some of the top players in the “sport,” which regularly receives coverage on ESPN, they reportedly struggled in close matches during the preseason against top contenders Seoul Dynasty and cross-state rivals Dallas Fuel.
ESPN’s eSports Power Rankings are predicting the the Outlaws to play somewhere the middle of the pack.
In a related story, Houston tech firm FanReact announced its plan to build the city’s first eSports arena.
The facility, which the owners are dubbing “The Cannon,” is planned to open near Interstate 10 and the West Sam Houston Tollway.
While FanReact is not directly affiliated with the Outlaws, there will reportedly be screens available to show the team’s first game.