[Update: Blizzard has finalized the 12 franchised OWL teams and cities. Below is the full list for season one.]
The Overwatch League is set to launch later this year, but before it begins, Blizzard will be finalizing its list of OWL teams and cities. The company has been fielding potential franchises owners for most of 2017, and is slowly securing bids for each of the league's regional teams.
Below are the owners and cities confirmed by Blizzard so far. The company is expected to announce additional cities soon, and we'll keep this page updated as they do.
Overwatch League Teams and Cities
Los Angeles - Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals
Los Angeles - Stan & Josh Kroenke, KSE Esports founders
San Francisco - Andy Miller, chairman and founder of NRG Esports
Miami-Orlando - Ben Spoont, Misfits CEO and cofounder
New York City - Jeff Wilpon, cofounder and partner at Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets
Boston - Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group and the New England Patriots
London - Jack Etienne, Cloud9 founder and CEO
Shanghai - Chinese internet technology company NetEase
Seoul - Kevin Chou, cofounder of Kabam
Philadelphia - Comcast Spectacor, sports leader and owner of Philadelphia Flyers
Dallas - Team Envy, veteran esports organization
Houston - OpTic Gaming, multi-game esports organization
The list features both classic esports names and large sports brands. Cloud9 currently fields teams in seven esports, including League of Legends, Hearthstone, CSGO, and Rocket League. Immortals, too, is no stranger to the scene; both they and Cloud9 will be sending their League of Legends teams to compete in the 2017 World Champions in China.
The Kroenke and Kraft names will be familiar to US sports fans. The former owns the LA Rams, as well as the Denver Nuggets, Arsenal Football Club, and Colorado Avalanche. The Kraft Group, meanwhile, owns the New England Patriots and their arena, the Gillette Stadium.
Though the Overwatch League will feature regional esports teams, the first year will see all rosters competing at Blizzard's Burbank arena. The location seats over 450 people, and will open to fans on Oct. 7 for the Overwatch Contenders playoffs. Following its premier season, OWL teams are expected to host games at home-city facilities.
Los Angeles, so far, is the only city to receive two franchised teams. In a statement to Blitz Esports, Overwatch Commissioner Nate Nanzer said the move is possible thanks to the city's large market, both in player base and infrastructure.
The first season of the Overwatch League is expected to debut later this year, though there is no solid date as of yet. Stay tuned to Blitz Esports and our Overwatch YouTube channel for more OWL coverage.