Toronto might be getting its own Overwatch League team
If the rumours are true (and they definitely are), a new professional sports league is about to join the NHL, NBA, MLS and MLB in their decisions to attain a Toronto-based team.
That league is the OWL — a massively popular eSports league dedicated to the six-on-six first-person shooter game Overwatch — and whether you've heard of the league or not, news of its impending expansion into Canada is absolutely huge.
ESPN reports that the American video game holding company Activision Blizzard is currently "undergoing final negotiations" to sell a Toronto slot in its Overwatch League to a group of investors for roughly $35 million.
Toronto is a major hub for esports, so it was only a matter of time before a Canadian team appeared on the radar. If these rumors are true what would you name the newest addition to the Overwatch League?#blizzard #overwatch #toronto #splyce #omnicesport #followus #owl pic.twitter.com/7VqqzE9uHA— Omnic Esports (@omnicesports) August 11, 2018
Toronto will be one of six new cities added to the league for Season 2 if the deal goes through as planned, joining the league's original 12 teams in Miami, Boston, New York City, Shanghai, London, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, Seoul, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Three other new Overwatch League teams have already been sold during this franchise-expansion sales period: One in Atlanta, one in Paris and one in Guangzhou, China.
Toronto— Cameron Kennedy (@CamcamKennedy) August 13, 2018
... It just sounds so perfect <3 @overwatchleague
Canadian entrepreneur Michael Kimel, who also owns part of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto's Chase Hospitality Group, is reportedly leading up the deal with Blizzard.
Funding will come from Kimel, his family and their ventures, according to ESPN, as well as from OverActive Media Group and the eSports organization Splyce, which will operate Toronto's new Overwatch team.
Finally a team I'll be able to root for! #Overwatch #OverwatchLeague https://t.co/hZbPXx8r5b— Khalior (@Khalior) August 14, 2018
At $35 million, the buy-in for a franchise this time around is significantly more expensive than it was last summer.
The first 12 OWL teams sold for $20 million a piece to the investors behind such pro-sports teams as the New York Mets, New England Patriots, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Flyers.
It would appear as though the value of owning an eSports team has risen alongside the popularity of professional gaming and Overwatch itself.
please god let the team colour for the toronto overwatch team be pink i want pink league skins— sai | pinned (@gayphysicist) August 11, 2018
Nearly half-a-million viewers tuned in to watch a live stream of the Overwatch Season 1 grand finals in July, according to TechVibes, and regular season games saw at least 150,000 viewers on average.
No name or branding ideas have been floated for the rumoured Overwatch team in Toronto yet, but fans will undoubtedly find out more by September 9, when all six new expansion teams will start signing free agents.
The Overwatch League's second season is set to kick off sometime in 2019.
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