According to sources from ESPN, the cities of Paris and Guangzhou will be the first cities to join the Overwatch League via expansion.
Blizzard Entertainment is finishing up agreements for the Paris team with McCourt Global. They are a Los Angeles based holding company that owns French soccer team Olympique de Marseille. Also, an agreement with Nenking Group, the ownership group of Chinese Basketball Association team Guangzhou Long-Lions, is in place. Nenking Group is the owner of the Guangzhou spot. If the expansion goes through, this will be the first time an expansion team enters the league. Additionally, this will mark the beginning of Overwatch’s expansion into Europe. League commissioner Nate Nanzer stated in April that Europe would be a key market for their focus.
How Much Is Each Overwatch League Slot?
The Overwatch League expects to sell each expansion slot for around $30-60 million. Also, the price is determined by a number of factors, such as the number of bidders, Overwatch player density and general population in that city. Blizzard also would state that they expect to sell around six new slots for new teams. The original buy-in for the first twelve teams currently in the league was $20 million each. The price jump for a league spot is probably due to the increase of popularity with the league. The Overwatch League stream draws around 60,000 – 100,000 viewers a stream. I would expect the Grand Finals in New York would bring in even more viewers, and doesn’t even include the people watching live.
There are several possible franchise owners that Blizzard expects to be in attendance at the Grand Finals at the Barclays Centre. Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, Overwatch League commish Nate Nanzer, and Blizzard Esports Leagues president and CEO Pete Vlastelica will meet future franchise owners. It is possible that Blizzard will announce new additions to the league after the Grand Finals.
Possible Expansion Cities?
One city that Blizzard and the Overwatch League has been considering is Berlin, Germany. Pete Vlastelica would mention it in an interview with German business site Handelsblatt, saying that Germany is an important market. This is because the league is searching for places with a high population of Overwatch players. Also, Germany is overall a legendary city for esports, hosting multiple esports events like CS:GO‘s ESL One Cologne and the League of Legends Worlds Championship. Also, there are multiple popular esports organizations based in Germany as well, like SK Gaming and Mousesports.
Another city that could possibly receive an Overwatch League spot could be from Brazil, like Rio De Janeiro or São Paulo. Nanzer states that Brazil is an “interesting” region, because there is a huge population of Overwatch fans in Brazil. Another focus region for Blizzard was Spain and Italy. This is because many soccer teams wish to embrace esports as a way to approach a younger fanbase. By entering the world of esports, teens can learn about the organization behind their favorite team. As a result, they could become fans of the sports organization as a whole. Possible cities include Rome, Milan, Barcelona, and Madrid.
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