Blizzard confirms six new teams for the 2019 Overwatch League season

Image source: City of Chengdu

Update: This morning Blizzard officially confirmed six new expansion teams coming to Overwatch League in the 2019 season. The new teams will be based in Paris, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., Chengdu, and Hangzhou. 

These teams join Atlanta and Guangzhou, which were announced earlier this year, bringing the number of expansion teams to eight and the total number of Overwatch League teams to 20.  

 "The Overwatch League’s inaugural season was a great success,” said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick in a statement. “This past season alone, fans spent 160 million hours watching the leading Overwatch players in the world compete. We are thrilled to add eight new outstanding team owners from Europe, China, and North America to our Overwatch League ownership group. We now have 20 of the very best owners in professional sports."

Original Story: A rumor surfaced last month claiming that a new Overwatch League team would be announced for the Canadian city of Toronto. I predicted at the time that, if the report was accurate, it would likely be the last new team to come to North America for the second season, as Blizzard has previously said that it wanted to add two new teams to the Americas in this round of expansion, along with two from Europe and two from the Middle East. 

A pair of new rumors reported by ESPN look to blow that theory out of the water, however, as "league sources" told the site today that new teams are also headed to Chengdu, China, and Vancouver, Canada. The rumor comes a day after a report that expansion teams will also be coming to Washington DC and Hangzhou, China. 

The Washington team will be owned by a group headed by Mark Ein, a real estate and tech investor who owns the Washington Kapitals of World Team Tennis, while Hangzhou will be held by Chinese video sharing service Bilibili. Huya, a streaming platform partially owned by Tencent Holdings, will own the Chengdu team, and the Vancouver squad will be owned by Canucks Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. 

Costs for the new franchises aren't known, but are expected to be much higher than the reported $20 million cost of the original Overwatch League teams. The Toronto team was rumored to have cost $35 million, although that—along with the actual existence of the franchise—has not been confirmed. I've reached out to the Overwatch League for comment, and will update if I receive a reply.