OWL to add six new teams, Berlin confirmed for expansion
Activision Blizzard has confirmed the addition of six new teams to the Overwatch League next season. After publishing their quarterly reports this past week, CEO of Activision Pete Vlastelica mentioned that Asia Pacific and Europe are the main teams in focus for the expansion, with Berlin being one of the confirmed cities.
After conflicting reports about just how profitable the OWL league can be to its investors, Blizzard shut down much of question marks certain critics had about the league as they look to increase the number of teams. Activision Blizzard is a billion dollar company that continues to grow, and the capital invested in a premier eSports league is a step towards continued, sustainable growth.
As the Overwatch League looks to expand, several huge cities across Asia Pacific have been looked at as possible candidates. With South Korea currently only housing one team, there is a high chance that the country gets a second team to root for as their influence within the scene grows. Taipei, Beijing, Tokyo, Sydney and Guangzhou have all been names rumoured to be included within the scene, but as of right now the only confirmed city to be added is Berlin.
Pete Vlastelica made it clear that the ultimate determinant factor as to which interest group obtains each slot will come down to stability of the partner as they look for suitable owners in each city. Right now, the only OWL team owned independently is Shanghai Dragons, which are funded by one of China’s biggest ISP’s NetEase.
Although their independence in ownership is unique, the performances their team has suffered is also singular to them as the Dragons have failed to catch up to the rest of the league. The goal for each new team added will be to compete with the teams already in the league, and interest groups in Korea, China and Europe are willing to bankroll those endeavors.
Onwards to Season Two
With six new teams poised to return to the fold, what’s next for the Overwatch League? A few Blizzard eSports directors have hinted at the possibility of Home and Away games for teams at some point in the future. While the likelihood of that happening next season is slim, the idea of Overwatch being played internationally is enticing to viewers that would like to see a disbursement of action in their own region.
With eighteen teams in the fold, the playoff implications and division rivalries between Atlantic and Pacific teams will become the focus next season as formats, schedule and rosters are all subject to change. Several OW contenders within academy teams have hinted at offers already, and the salaries offered are parallel to the biggest teams already in the OWL. In a scene dictated by dollars, there is a high chance these new teams will be able to compete if Blizzard puts them in a place to compete on equal footing with all the Season One teams.