The Overwatch League has now expanded to nine teams, as Blizzard announced today that Cloud9 founder Jack Etienne has purchased the rights to a team based in London, while Stan and Josh Kroenke of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, which holds a controlling interest in sports franchises including the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and Arsenal FC, will take ownership of a team based on Los Angeles.
"Overwatch is a global game, with heroes—and players—from around the world, so it's important to us that as many Overwatch League fans as possible have local or regional teams to root for," Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said in a statement. "In addition to broadening the competitive field for Season 1, we're excited that today's announcement helps set the stage for more epic intercontinental rivalries."
"We are thrilled that Cloud9’s formidable fan base throughout Europe and the UK now has a local team to call their own, and can’t wait to start representing London in the Overwatch League," Etienne said.
ESPN says that the cost for each team was $20 million, a figure previously reported but not confirmed by Blizzard. The goal for the Overwatch League's first season is 12 teams, according to the site, which also reported on Monday a rumor that Team EnVyUs is set to buy the rights to a team based in Texas.
"Building communities around the best competitive experiences in the world is incredibly rewarding, and the Overwatch League offers the chance to create something special," KSE Esports co-founder Josh Kroenke said. "We’re impressed by the vision and strategy for the League, and we’re going to build a great team for Los Angeles that inspires fans near and far."
The KSE outfit will actually be the Overwatch League's second Los Angeles-based team: The city is also home to an Immortals team, which was announced in July as one of the league's original seven teams. Overwatch League teams will earn equal shares of league-wide net revenues, but will also keep the majority of local revenues earned through licensing, sponsorships, merchandising, and so forth. The potential for conflict between teams sharing a single city struck me as possible at the very least, but Blizzard said that's not the case.
"Local revenues include revenues driven by the team in their local territories such as ticket sales and event revenues as well as team sponsorships," a Blizzard rep said. "There’s no conflict. The teams are treated as equals with any other team in the world in terms of league revenue sharing. And they will each build their own local business and retain those revenues."
Season one of the Overwatch League is expected to get underway later this year.