The Overwatch League achieved critical success in its inaugural season as a first-of-its-kind, city-based esports league – culminating in an electric Grand Finals at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center last July. With the 2019 season underway, we took a minute to chat with SXSW Gaming Featured Speaker Nate Nanzer, commissioner of the Overwatch League, to chat about his thoughts on returning to SXSW Gaming, the importance of connecting with fans, and the future of the Overwatch League!
Q&A with Nate Nanzer, Commissioner of the Overwatch League
SXSW Gaming: We are thrilled to have you back as a Featured Speaker! Do you feel like a SXSW Gaming veteran at this point?
Nanzer: This is one of my favorite events of the year, and I’m really excited this year to talk about the future of the Overwatch League with Mina Kimes from ESPN. She’s fantastic, has been a huge advocate for esports, and has written some the best esports feature stories in journalism history for ESPN the Magazine.
SXSW Gaming: Why do you think creative gaming events like this are so important?
Nanzer: I think they are two-fold, one it’s a great opportunity for the fans to get together and celebrate this great community of gamers and esports. Second, for those of us in the industry, it’s a great opportunity to make news, network with colleagues and conduct business. And seeing old friends is always a great aspect of these types of events.
SXSW Gaming: What are you looking forward to at SXSW Gaming 2019?
Nanzer: Besides the barbeque and live music? We have some interesting things to share about the future of the Overwatch League, which I’m excited to talk about. I really can’t wait actually. It’s going to be awesome. I’m also really excited to talk to our fans, I love opportunities where I can connect with them personally. Last year’s session had a packed house and they asked some really thoughtful questions. Students especially are so curious, engaged, and excited for the future of the esports industry.
SXSW Gaming: From your perspective, as an esports league commissioner, what were the benefits of speaking at SXSW Gaming?
Nanzer: It’s a great stage to share the latest news and updates for the Overwatch League. It just so happens to fall shortly after our season begins, so it’s a nice time to take stock of where we’re at in the season and what we can improve upon. It’s also a great opportunity to see fans out in the cities they live in. I saw a ton of Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel fans at SXSW Gaming last year and I expect the same this year. We’ll also be in Allen, Texas in April for our first ever Overwatch League Homestand weekend so I guess you could say we’re going big in Texas this year.
SXSW Gaming: With the Overwatch League season just starting, what were some of the bigger takeaways from season one that you’re implementing into season two?
Nanzer: We’re building off the positive momentum from our inaugural season and have made improvements that are making the 2019 season more engaging, accessible, and exciting for our fans. Even now we continue to innovate, with planned changes and adjustments for the next stage. We take a critical look at our broadcast every week and the team is dedicated to creating the best content possible for viewers and the best experience for players.
SXSW Gaming: What motivated you to purse the city-based teams for the Overwatch League?
Nanzer: I think everyone instantly understands a connection to a team in their hometown. Esports can be both global and highly local. Our Dallas Fuel vs. Houston Outlaws matches are incredibly hyped. Same goes for the crosstown “Battle for LA” when LA Gladiators face off against the LA Valiant. It’s been exciting to see that vision realized on a small scale, and we’re just getting started.
SXSW Gaming: Can you give us a preview of what fans can expect to hear from your Featured Session this year, The Evolution of the Overwatch League?
Nanzer: We’re going to go deep on where the league is headed, our vision for the future, and what Overwatch League fans can expect in their home cities in the years ahead.
The Evolution of the Overwatch League
Don’t miss Nanzer’s Featured Session, The Evolution of the Overwatch League, on March 15th at 11 a.m. in the Austin Convention Center, room 10AB. Attendees with SXSW Gaming wristbands and SXSW Badges are welcome.
Don’t Miss Out!
To hear more about the future of the Overwatch League and other Featured Sessions, purchase your 3-Day or single day SXSW Gaming wristband! With your wristband, you get to experience the best in gaming culture with hands-on play, panels, tournaments, exhibitions, exclusive networking opportunities, and a one-of-a-kind awards show!
The Evolution of the Overwatch League Featured Session. Nate Nanzer photo provided by Blizzard Entertainment and Mina Kimes photo provided by the speaker.