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NEW YORK, NY - JULY 28: A view of the arena as Philadelphia Fusion play London Spitfire during Overwatch League Grand Finals - Day 2 at Barclays Center on July 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Blizzard Entertainment )

Gaming

Blizzard announces Overwatch League expansion franchises in Atlanta, USA and Guangzhou, China

Six new teams expected to join OWL next season, here’s the first two.

The London Spitfire were recently crowned the first ever Overwatch League champions and the finals were simply incredible. But it’s time to move forward. Season 2 of Overwatch League is on its way and the landscape is already receiving quite the shakeup.

Today Overwatch League is welcoming two new teams to its ranks: Atlanta and Guangzhou, China. The teams were announced by Overwatch League officials and the new owners.

Atlanta’s team is owned through a joint venture by Cox Enterprises and Las Vegas-based advisory firm Province Inc., aptly named Atlanta Esports Ventures. This is now the second Overwatch team to be owned a communications giant, with the Philadelphia Fusion being owned by Comcast.

“From a very basic level, the fact that my twin 7-year-olds and 10-year-old stop everything they’re doing when I get online and play, no matter what it is — whenever I do business it has to speak to me on that basis,” said Paul Hamilton, Atlanta’s chief executive.

China’s Guangzhou team is owned and operated by the Nenking Group, a financial and entertainment conglomerate, controlled by billionaire Zhong Naixoing, that also owns Guangzhou Long Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Nenking Group chairman, Zhong Naizong had this to say on the announcement: “The Nenking Group and the Long Lions have deep roots in this region, and we can’t wait to represent our city on the world stage and make our fans proud,”

“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.”

Six teams are rumored to be coming to Overwatch League by the start of season 2, so it’s safe to assume we’ll at least see a few more announcements, if not the expected four.

Overwatch League franchises are said to cost upwards of $30 million, though with the explosive success of Overwatch and Overwatch League, the prices could have risen due to competitive bids. The leagues’ current 12 teams each purchased their slots for $20 million in 2017.

Expansion teams have an exclusive window to sign free agents from Sept. 9 to Oct. 7. Blizzard has stated that official team names, marks, and rosters will be revealed at a later date.

 

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