It’s been another busy week for the Overwatch League, following Shanghai franchise NetEase's acquisition of Invictus Gaming Fire and Ice, and Team EnVyUs’ reported funding for the Austin-Dallas spot. Two additional teams have been confirmed, with Cloud 9 snapping up a spot in London, whilst father and son duo Stan and Josh Kroenke have claimed Los Angeles' second team as reported by Sports Business Daily and later confirmed by Blizzard.
Cloud9 has one of the biggest brands in esports, which includes an Overwatch team that was acquired in the spring of 2016. Last March they received funding from numerous venture capital, sports, and Silicon Valley figures, and plan to secure more in the coming months.
The purchase of the London spot comes as a bit of a surprise, given that Cloud9 operates within the Los Angeles area. But with EnVyUs, who are based in Charlotte, moving to the Lone Star state with backing from the Texas based Hersh family, other orgs might not fear to follow the gold elsewhere and enter the league.
Cloud9’s current roster, which mainly consists of North American players, has been one of the top teams within the region, with their last offline appearance at TaKeOver 2 netting them 3rd place. Their most recent tournament, however, at Contenders Season Zero, saw them fail to pass through the group stage, and potentially grab a spot in Contenders Season 1.
There was concern last week that Cloud9 wouldn't represent themselves in the league, following reports on their roster possibly disbanding. This led to speculation that the org would proceed with the trend of endemic esports organizations dropping their rosters due to the reported $20 million price tag for a franchise spot in the league. With org contracts separate from the league contracts, and their roster potentially folding, it wouldn’t be out of question if Cloud9 forms an entirely new line-up to represent them in the league.
Stan and Josh Kroenke both have deep ties to the traditional sporting world. Stan Kroenke is the majority owner of Arsenal Football club, alongside further ownership roles in sporting teams such as the L.A. Rams and Denver Nuggets under Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. His son, Josh Kroenke, is the president and governor of the Denver Nuggets, similarly having a wealth of involvement in other franchises in the sporting world such as his role as a non-executive director for Arsenal.
The pair's acquisition makes Los Angeles the first city in the league to be represented by multiple teams. As one of the largest markets in both traditional sports and esports, both Immortals and the Kroenkes will vie for glory in the city of Angels.
The potential for other cities to be represented by multiple teams remains open, although Commissioner of the Overwatch League Nate Nanzer did say that “there's really only a few markets in the world I think where we consider having multiple teams, and L.A. is one of them” in an article by Blitz.
Nine teams have now been confirmed to be a part of the league, soon to be ten with EnVyUs expected to confirm their investment in the near future. Blizzard’s announcement stated that these confirmed teams will not be the last before the commencement of the inaugural season, so don’t be surprised to see more announcements in the near future.