LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer, a crucial figure in the formation and financing of the league, abruptly announced plans to leave the organization to join Epic Games, the company behind the immensely popular game Fortnite.
Pete Vlastelica, who was formerly an executive vice president, and who currently leads Overwatch maker Blizzard’s esports division, will step in to replace Nanzer as the OWL commissioner.
In a statement on Twitter, Nanzer said: “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’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,” Nanzer added.
Shortly after Nanzer announced his exit, Epic Games welcomed him into the fold, and in a statement, said: ‘We’re excited to welcome Nate to the Epic Games team, where he’ll be working with us on competitive Fortnite.’
Nanzer, who is 39, is seen as one of the key figures in the early development of the Overwatch League and helped to secure buy-ins at $20 million per franchise from the twelve teams that made up the league at launch.
Under Nanzer, the league, which is currently in its second season, has expanded to 20 teams and has struck major sponsorship deals with Toyota, Coca-Cola, and Intel among others.
As well, ESPN reported that under Nanzer, the OWL struck a $90 million, two-year deal for streaming on Twitch, and a broadcast deal for conventional television with ESPN.
Nanzer’s transition to Epic hints at the company’s esports ambitions. Epic announced plans to try to develop an esports league popular builder-shooter Fortnite last August, and earlier this month, acquired Pysonix, the developer of the esports ready game Rocketleague.
Both Rocket League and Fortnite are gearing up to stage major arena-level events in New York in June and July.