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Overwatch League Announces First Expansion Teams For 2019 Season

August 2, 2018 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Overwatch League

The Overwatch League has announced the first two expansion teams for its 2019 season. The League announced on Thursday Atlanta, Georgia and Guangdong, China will join the league next year with expansion teams, joining the twelve teams from the inaugural season as well as more expansion teams to be announced. Further details about official names, marks, and rosters for Atlanta and Guangzhou will be announced soon by each team in conjunction with the league, with other new teams to be announced at a later date.

The announcement comes less then a week after the inaugural season’s grand finals were held last weekend in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The finals saw the London Spitfire defeat the Philadelphia Fusion to become the season one champions. The finals were aired on Twitch, MLG, TV, NetEase CC, and Panda TV, as well as broadcast airings on Disney XD, ESPN. The finals drew an average viewership of 861,205.

It was reported in June that, due to the success of the first season, the expansion team buy-in cost for season two would be somewhere between $30 million and $60 million. That’s a major increase from the inaugural season, when the first twelve franchises cost $20 million apiece. The increase is thanks to major sponsorship deals, a rise in valuation of eSports franchises in general and better-than-expected viewership.

Additional franchises are expected to be internationally-based, with a Canadian team possible as well as Asian and European teams. The post-season schedule indicates that the remaining expansion teams will be announced by September 9th, when an exclusive free agency period for expansion teams to sign players will begin. Existing teams will have from August 1 to September 8 to negotiate contract extensions with current players, or to sign their Contenders (minor league) teams to their OWL rosters.

The season will hold its All-Star Weekend on August 25th and 26th, including an All-Star Game pitting the Atlantic Division against the Pacific Division.

The ownership groups operating the new franchises are:

* Atlanta, Georgia — Cox Enterprises, a leading communications, media, and automotive services company, which has partnered with Province, Inc. to form Atlanta Esports Ventures
* Guangzhou, China — Nenking Group, a financial and entertainment conglomerate, and owner of the Guangzhou Long Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association

“After thrilling fans with an amazing Grand Finals at the Barclays Center, we’re excited to follow that up by expanding the Overwatch League next season,” said Pete Vlastelica, president and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. “We’re pleased to add the Atlanta and Guangzhou teams to the ownership group, and we look forward to bringing the league to even more fans across both regions in 2019.”

“We know Atlanta and Guangzhou have deeply engaged fan communities and we can’t wait to unveil their teams,” said Nate Nanzer, commissioner of the Overwatch League. “As the league continues to grow, we’re looking forward to seeing more talented pros in action as more roster spots open up.”