The world’s best pedigreed esports developer is opening a state-of-the-art temple to its craft right in its own backyard. Blizzard Entertainment, creator of the fine-tuned esports hit Overwatch and MMO legacy World of Warcraft, will open its very own esports facility and stadium on October 7, just in time for the a fresh season of playoffs for the aspiring pros in its Overwatch Contenders league.
The arena isn’t Irvine-based Blizzard’s first IRL stadium — that one opened in Taipei earlier this year — but it’s a pretty huge stateside milestone and another compelling reason that Los Angeles is the rightful U.S. home to all things esports.
The facility, dubbed Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, is part of Burbank studios, a storied hub of television production. The arena will host “multiple sound stages, control rooms, and practice facilities” on a rotating event schedule throughout the year featuring the best players of Blizzard’s hit competitive games, including Overwatch, of course, but also World of Warcraft and Hearthstone.
Starting in mid-October, Blizzard Arena Los Angeles will host the Hearthstone Championship Tour’s Summer Championship, the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship Finals and the World of Warcraft Arena Championship. Those events will all lead into BlizzCon, Blizzard’s massive annual event that starts on November 3.
The biggest esports tournaments are usually held at large-capacity traditional sports arenas, and they don’t have any trouble filling them. In 2016, Blizzard competitor Riot’s League of Legends semifinals were held at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden, with the championship held at the Staples center in Los Angeles, which boasts a capacity of 21,000.
Blizzard’s choice to build its own arena has plenty of advantages. Beyond the convenience of having a nearby production extension of the company’s existing headquarters, Blizzard won’t have to convert traditional sports venues to the unique needs of an esports tournament for anything it chooses to host on home turf. For a company building an esports empire, it’s a smart move — and just another sign that the world of competitive gaming grows more lucrative by the day.