The Overwatch League officially can knock its participating teams up to 20. Six more expansion teams for the 2019 have been confirmed by league executives.
The new teams, as reported previously by ESPN, will take the Overwatch League to, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., Paris, and the Chinese cities of Hangzhou and Chengdu. With the addition of Atlanta and Guangzhou announced earlier in the year, that’s eight new teams joining for season two. Franchise ownership groups reportedly spent $30 to $60 million each on the slots, according to ESPN.
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Aquillini Group, the ownership group for Vancouver Canuks, will operate the Vancouver team, naturally. Bilibili, a Chinese media site, will cover Hangzhou, while HUYA Inc., a livingstreaming platform in China, will operate the Chengdu team. DM Esports purchased the Paris slot, Washington Esports Ventures took D.C., and OverActive Media won Toronto.
The Overwatch League now has 13 North American teams, five Asian teams, and two European teams. Of the five Asian teams, four are in China and one in South Korea. Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer told Dot Esports that the league wants to introduce the diversity of China to a broader audience, and to highlight its expansive esports fan-base. Nanzer said the team was also thinking about the eventually home-and-away format for the Overwatch League when discussing cities. Five teams in Asia will allow allow for less demanding travel schedules. Of course, nothing is set for the Overwatch League’s switch to a truly city-based format, but teams in condensed areas will make travel obligations lighter, in theory.
Nanzer declined to share details for the Overwatch League’s second season, but noted that the front office has been collaborating with teams and players to discuss what worked in season one and what didn’t. The Overwatch League is interested in making changes that appeal to both fans and players, Nanzer said.
Nanzer also spoke briefly about player burnout from season one, noting that the league isn’t interested in regulating teams’ or players’ practice schedules. “It’d be near impossible to actually enforce,” Nanzer said. A less demanding schedule could help in that regard, allowing players more time off.
More information about the Overwatch League’s second season is expected “at a later date,” as are details regarding the eight expansion team’s names and logos.