Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) announced the appointment of two new commissioners for the upcoming Call of Duty League and Overwatch League today, further expanding the video game publisher’s brands across the esports space. Johanna Faries is transitioning from being the Head of Call of Duty Esports to becoming the leader of the entire business as commissioner. At the same time, Pete Vlastelica is taking up the role of commissioner for the Overwatch League.

Johanna Faries leads The Call of Duty League

The Call of Duty World League will change into simply being named the “Call of Duty League” in 2020. Seven teams and their respective cities have been announced for the inaugural season, but an official start date and final team count hasn’t been revealed yet. Johanna Faries served as an executive at the NFL prior to joining Activision Blizzard a year ago, and now she is the first ever commissioner for the Call of Duty League.

In a statement, Faries explained that her team’s initial focus was to set a “new product vision for Call of Duty as a city-based franchised league.” Now that the league has grown worldwide, the focus is shifting more towards operating and managing the competitive ecosystem. She also added, “Now that we have a strong product vision and business model to share, and have sold in several team franchises in the process, we can now shift gears toward the planning and execution phase of our work.” As commissioner, Faries will oversee all aspects of those dynamics.

“Our ambition is quite large,” said Faries, “but it’s also what gets us up every day feeling so energized by the potential scale of what Call of Duty esports can deliver. It’s a rush that can feel scary at times, but that thrill is typically where greatness can happen. I feel honored to be a part of it.”

The Overwatch League promotes Pete Vlastelica

Many were stunned when Nate Nanzer stepped down as Overwatch League commissioner last May to join Epic Games. But it looks like the second season, which is already underway, is working smoothly and Pete Vlastelica’s promotion to commissioner will help ensure that will continue.

Vlastelica has been serving as CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues for the past three years. He was a vice president at Fox Sports for five years before that. With just a few months left in the 2019 season, Vlastelica said that his main focus will be on the Overwatch League Grand Finals, which will be held in Philadelphia this September. Other upcoming challenges include preparing for the next season as teams play in their home cities.

“Nobody’s ever really done this before, so no one knows what works best to get fans fired up to come out and support their team,” Vlastelica said in a statement, discussing localization. “That evolution is going to take a few years to settle, but it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch and be a part of.”

Steven Wong
Steven has covered the video game industry for over a decade, including development, marketing, and emerging technologies. He has written for companies and publications such as AOL, AListDaily, and more.

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