The inaugural season of the Overwatch League debuted in January with 12 teams ranging from Los Angeles, California to Shanghai, China. Through the ups and downs of the first season, the league not only sold-out the Barclays Center for the season finals but changed the barriers of esports and the way it’s perceived by outside viewers.
Blizzard revealed minor details when looking ahead to the second season of the Overwatch League such as expanding from 12 to 18 teams. Once teams were announced it was then made known that the developer actually expanded the number of teams to 20.
While inaugural teams paid $20m (£14m) to join the franchise, expansion teams were rumoured to pay between $30m (£22m) – $60m (£44m) for the next season.
As we look ahead to the second season of the Overwatch League, we’ve got the complete list of the eight additional franchise cities joining along with the owners and team information that’s already been released.
We can’t wait for the #OWL2019 season!
Here are the 8 new teams joining the league! pic.twitter.com/zhkrNYDlko
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) September 7, 2018
Vancouver, British Columbia – Canada
The Vancouver franchise was one of the final cities to be announced and will be owned by Canucks Sports and Entertainment investment company, Aquilini Investment Group which also invests in the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena, which is where the most recent International was held. There have been no further details as to who or what will operate the team, or any players or staff that have been brought on yet.
Toronto, Ontario – Canada
The Toronto franchise was first reported in August and confirmed a month later. The team will be funded by Penguins investor Michael Kimel and his family, esports organisation Splyce in partnership with OverActive Media Group, a silent Toronto entrepreneur, and Westdale Construction. The spot was reportedly sold for $35m with Splyce controlling team operations and owning 10% stake. Earlier in September it was reported that former Canadian Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Chris Overholt would become President of the new franchise. The franchise has already been adding staff – former Head of North American Player Management and Partnership Relations for Splyce, Jaesun “Jae” Won has been added as General Manager and former London Spitfire Coach Beoumjun “Bishop” Lee has been added as Head Coach.
Washington, District of Columbia – United States
A new funding group, Washington Esports Venures, led by Washington Kastles Owner Mark Ein will own the franchise. Ein is also a minority owner of aXiomatic, parent company of Team Liquid. Former General Manager of the Contenders team, Last Night’s Leftovers, Kate Mitchell has been brought on as the Assistant Manager of the team. Former New York Excelsior Coach Jyeong-seok “Wizardhyeong” Kim will be the Head Coach, and former New York Excelsior tank player Joon-hwa “Janus” Song is the first to be added to the player roster.
Atlanta, Georgia – United States
The Atlanta franchise was sold to the Atlanta Esports Ventures group which is funded primarily by Cox Enterprises. Subsidiaries under the Cox brand include broadband communications and entertainment company Cox Communications, Cox Media Group which operates broadcast television, radio and newspapers, and Cox Automotive which operates Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. The team will be operated by Atlanta Esports Ventures which is a partnership between Cox and Province, Inc. Paul Hamilton, Atlanta Esports Ventures President and CEO, announced former San Francisco Shock Head Coach Brad “sephy” Rajani will be added as Head Coach, Dimitri “Silence” Couturet as Assistant Coach, former Contenders team One.PoinT Head Coach Cas “Casores” van Andel as Player Development Coach, Danny “Danny” Mychakov as Data Analyst, and Dongmin “Dongming” Jeong as Translator.
— AEV-Paul (@AevPaul) September 10, 2018
Chengdu, Sichuan – China
The Chengdu franchise will be owned by Chinese streaming platform, Huya which holds exclusive Chinese rights to WESG and holds investments from Tencent. Chengdu was one of the final expansion teams to be announced and there have been no further details as to who or what will operate the team, or any players or staff that have been brought on yet.
Hangzhou, Zhejiang – China
The Hangzhou team will be owned by Bilibili, a leading online entertainment company in China, covering a wide array of genres and media formats—including videos, live broadcasting, and mobile games. Other than announcing the franchise will take suggestions for team names, there have been no further details as to who or what organisation will operate the team, or any players or staff that may be brought on.
Guangzhou, Guangdong – China
As one of the first teams to be announced, the Guangzhou franchise will be owned and operated by the Nenking Group, a financial and entertainment conglomerate owned by billionaire Zhong Naixiong. The Nenking Group also owns the Guangzhou Long Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association. There have been no further details if the Guangzhou team has added any players or staff leading up to the second season.
Paris, France – Europe
Along with the Guangzhou franchise, Paris was the first team to be announced as an addition to the Overwatch League. The spot was purchased by McCourt Global, a holding company based in Los Angeles which owns French football club Olympique de Marseille and operating rights to the Los Angeles Marathon. Founder Frank McCourt previously owned the Los Angeles Dodgers. There have been no further details as to who or what organisation will operate the team or any players or staff that may be brought on.
With the addition of these eight franchises, the total number of Overwatch League teams leading into season two now sit at 20: 11 in the United States, two in Canada, two in Europe, and five in Asia. The league currently has plans to have teams travel and play in their respective regions by 2020 meaning each franchise will soon have to set a home venue in their city.
There’s no confirmation on when season two will officially begin, but teams are already signing players for the new season. With the Overwatch World Cup finals taking place at BlizzCon in November it’s most likely preseason will begin in December, as it did last season.