We all have fond childhood memories of collecting trading cards of our favorite sports players. Now, Upper Deck is partnering with the Overwatch League to create the first ever eSports trading cards.
Inaugural Trading Card Set
For the first time ever, fans of the Overwatch League will be able to collect and trade cards of their favorite players. Upper Deck announced that the first set of trading cards will be released on June 19. This set will commemorate the Inaugural Season for the Overwatch Least in 2017-2018. This set will feature 125 players from each of the original 12 Overwatch League teams. Though fans of other teams might be disappointed that their teams are not represented in the first set, they will surely be added in later sets.
Though fans need to wait until June 19 for its full release, they will get a taste of the new trading cards this upcoming weekend. During the All-Star Weekend, fans will get a chance to preview many of the cards. They will also be able to kick start their collection, as two All-Star themed cards will be made available for a limited time.
Who’s ready to start collecting?
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) May 13, 2019
Bringing Trading Cards into the 21st Century
While some may have fond memories of the binders of sports cards they collected in their childhood, collecting Overwatch League cards will look quite different. Packs will be bought, open, and collected virtually using Upper Deck’s “e-Pack” site. This site serves as both the store where cards can be bought. It also serves the storage for players to view their collection. However, don’t fear if you are the kind of person who prefers to have a physical collection. Fans will be able to have physical copies of their cards sent to them anytime they like.
Using Upper Deck’s “e-Pack” system fits very nicely with Overwatch League cards. First of all, eSports fans are obviously used to living in the digital age, so the idea of a digital card collection is not far-fetched. More importantly, however, this “e-Pack” system allows players to trade their cards with other collectors around the world. Blizzard has always promoted the Overwatch League as a “global league,” and having a global market for trading cards fits nicely into this narrative.
A Major Step for eSports
Perhaps the most exciting part of the partnership between Upper Deck and the Overwatch League is what it means for eSports in general. Blizzard has always been a trailblazer in making strives to bring video games and eSports into the mainstream. This partnership is a sign of the growing acceptance, as well as the profitability of eSports. Both Blizzard and Upper Deck have commented on their excitement over this partnership. Blizzard’s head of eSports licensing, Daniel Siegel said the following:
“Collaborating with Upper Deck allows the Overwatch League to offer fans everywhere the opportunity to collect and trade exclusive cards and collectibles—featuring their favorite teams
and players—that can be cherished for years to come… This is an awesome milestone for our companies, and for esports as a whole.”
Jason Masherah, the president of Upper Deck, echoed a similar sentiment in a statement.
“We are very excited to collaborate with the Overwatch League for our first esports deal and to deliver new and innovative products to Overwatch League fans everywhere… This is a great way to celebrate Upper Deck’s 30th anniversary, and we look forward to working with the talented team at Activision Blizzard for many years to come.”
The statements by both Blizzard and Upper Deck show that both companies are very excited about the partnership. Both companies do have a history together. Uppdeck worked with Blizzard to make World of Warcraft trading cards in the past. This looks to be the next step in the business relationship between the two companies. Hopefully, it will prove successful.
Daniel Siegel’s statement about the partnership is particularly insightful. Sure, this may be a major step for the Overwatch League. But it is also a major step for eSports. Even fans of other eSports besides Overwatch can get excited about the growing excitement, acceptance, and business opportunities surrounding eSports.
Just the Beginning
While very exciting for Overwatch League fans, this first set of trading cards is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only will there be new sets released later including the other eight expansion teams from the 2019 season, but Upper Deck has also mentioned other products to be released later. They have announced plans to release stickers, sticker books, prints, posters, and memorabilia. Even if trading cards aren’t your thing, it seems that Upper Deck will eventually have a wide range of OWL products. Tune into the upcoming All-Star Weekend to catch first-glance eSports first trading cards.