As an avid viewer of Overwatch League, I can only imagine next season being better. With the events that went on this inaugural season, the people in charge of Overwatch League at Blizzard will adapt. The most exciting news about Season 2 of the Overwatch League has to be the expansion of the league. With a German article interviewing Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues president and CEO Pete Vlastelica mentioning that the league is looking into six teams to be added, it can only lead to more close games and new dynamics next season. They went into detail into the general areas of the future teams, but I will put my official guesses on exactly which cities get teams (and even name them for fun). From 12 teams to 18, let’s look into the details.
Where are these teams going to be?
Pete Vlastelica confirmed in that article that they want two more teams in the Americas, two more teams from the Asia and Pacific region, and two more teams from the European and Middle-Eastern area. It makes sense that they are trying to spread out more globally. There are only three teams right now that aren’t in the United States. Those teams are the London Spitfire, Shanghai Dragons, and Seoul Dynasty. There is only one European team, even though a lot of the players currently playing are from Europe. Similar situation with the Asia/Pacific region, where they only have two teams even though almost every starting roster in the league has professional Asian/Pacific players.
Let us go through each region reported to be getting teams, and guess some locations that might fit into the Overwatch League, starting with:
As someone who lives in Canada, this gives me hope for a Canadian Overwatch League team. In sports that originate in the United States much like Overwatch did, Canada usually gets one team. Whether it be the Toronto Raptors in basketball or the Toronto Blue Jays in baseball, they essentially represent Canada. I can confirm this wholeheartedly as well, as I live in Ottawa and they support the Raptors and Blue Jays as much as people living in Toronto do. But a Canadian Overwatch League team isn’t guaranteed at all. The closest thing we Canadians have to one right now is the Toronto Esports Overwatch Contenders team; in the league below the Overwatch League. Even then, they are a farm team in a deal with the Boston Uprising, so their players will not have the chance to truly represent a country at the top level. Montreal and Toronto are most likely to get a team with their massive population and stakes in the gaming industry. Let’s hope the Montreal Crush or the Toronto Freeze come into existence soon.
The other place where I can see getting a team is somewhere other than the United States or Canada. Mexico is viable, but my best guess would be in Brazil. We already have some well known Brazilian players in the Overwatch scene, most famously Hydration from the Los Angeles Gladiators. I could see this happening more than the Canadian team that I want because South America has no teams so far. If it would be a Brazilian team, I could imagine Rio or Sao Paulo getting a team. The Rio Samba or the Sao Paulo Paulistas could be teams in the near future.
Europe and the Middle-East
These areas have one difference than the others: one almost guaranteed location for those two expansion teams. In this German article I referenced earlier, they mention the idea of a team to represent Germany. In that same article, they mention how their main focuses in Europe are Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, and places in Scandinavia. While Berlin would make a lot of sense, I think to have a Scandinavian Overwatch League team would make even more sense. With teams like the Florida Mayhem having a mainly Swedish roster and plenty of teams having Finnish players, they already have a connection to the league. With that idea, I could easily imagine a Berlin team as much as a Stockholm team or a Helsinki team. Whether it be the Berlin Blitz, the Stockholm Stone or the Helsinki Current, I look forward to more teams.
Not to forget, there is also the mention of the middle-east. My best guess would be Egypt, with the city being its capital Cairo. With characters in Overwatch representing Egypt like Ana and Pharah, this one seems like the most likely. The Cairo Creators would be a nice addition to the Overwatch League.
Asia and the Pacific
This one is one of the more open areas to add teams into, but there are plenty of countries or cities that could get one. One obvious choice is South Korea, as there is a massive amount of Korean players in Overwatch. There are so many Korean players that some teams representing American countries have no American players at all (what is this, the NHL?). With that being said, Busan seems like the most likely for another Korean team. But that leads to another country without a team in the Overwatch League: Japan. Whether it be Tokyo or Kyoto, the Japanese market must be a market that Blizzard wants to get viewership from. Another option, though not too likely, would be an Australian team. Whether it be the Tokyo Aces, the Busan Nightowls, or the Sydney Outback, they would be a great addition to the Overwatch League.
What does this mean for the league?
There are a couple issues with this expansion, as people have questioned the price of buying into the table. Costs to join the teams of the Overwatch League with your own were reported to be around the $20 million mark. This report was done in May of last year, but we can only assume that the costs will be more. Similarly, getting a roster of your own would be a little tougher than this inaugural season, but not impossible. There are plenty of talents on the Overwatch scene that haven’t seen professional level yet. Also, there are people who just didn’t fit a specific team’s style. Similarly, the idea of having stadiums for teams and incorporating home and away games won’t be integrated for season two. They still will host almost all of their games in the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.
This is good for the league no matter what. The expansion plans get better with the success of the inaugural season, getting the attention of people thinking about making a team. Making new storylines, new rivalries, and new team dynamics can make this league even more interesting. The addition of more global teams is a very smart decision on Blizzard’s part, and I hope this all works well in the end.