Nanzer was arguably the face of OWL
By Joseph Knoop
Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer has announced that he will be stepping down from the position next week, ESPN reported Friday night. Fortnite publisher Epic Games has confirmed that Nanzer will be joining the company in a role overseeing competitive esports. Nanzer announced his decision late on Friday via Twitter. “Hey Overwatch League family,” Nanzer wrote. “I wanted to share that soon I will be leaving Blizzard for a new opportunity. This has been the toughest decision of my life, because it means I won’t get to work with the best staff, players, teams, owners, partners, and fans in esports anymore. I can’t emphasize enough how proud I am of what we’ve all accomplished together. It has been the honor of my life to have been part of the team that helped build the league of #breakthrough, #BurnBlue, #pdomjnate, #CaptureHistory, #OWL2019, and many more. “I get way too much credit for the success of the Overwatch League,” Nanzer continued. “It’s been awesome to be our public face, but too many overestimate my role in making the league great. It isn’t about me; it’s never been. It’s about all of you. That’s why I’m confident the league is in great hands. I can’t wait to see where the team takes the Overwatch League in 2020 – and beyond. And I’ll be cheering right there alongside you, every step of the way.”
According to ESPN, Nanzer is being replaced by former Fox Sports executive vice president Pete Vlastelica, who is responsible for overseeing all of Activision Blizzard’s esports properties. “As President & CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues, I am stepping in as Overwatch League commissioner, effective immediately,” Vlastelica said in a statement to ESPN. “We have the best team in the business working incredibly hard to realize the vision we set out to create years ago, and I’ll be working very closely with our staff, the teams and partners to do just that.”
Epic Games confirmed in a statement to ESPN that Nanzer would be working on Fortnite’s competitive esports business. Nanzer played a key role in the founding of the Overwatch League, pitching Overwatch lead designer Jeff Kaplan on the idea, before eventually capturing the interest of Activision Blizzard executives like CEO Bobby Kotick. The Overwatch League is currently in the middle of its second season, and is gearing up for an increased emphasis on home games staged in each team’s city for season three. Meanwhile, Epic Games recently acquired Rocket League developer Psyonix, with an eye on the franchise’s continued esports business. Epic Games has also allotted $100 million to Fortnite’s esports circuit, with $30 million dedicated to this summer’s Fortnite World Finals in New York. Joseph Knoop is a writer and web producer for IGN. Root, root, root for the home team with him on Twitter @JosephKnoop.