The Overwatch League has grown to nine teams, adding another in Los Angeles and one in London. Last month, Blizzard announced that the first seven teams had joined its new esports organization, which aims to create a salaried city-based system for Overwatch players.
As in traditional sports, the Overwatch League has created official teams for individual cities. They can sign players from now until October 30, and each has to follow Blizzard’s rules, providing benefits, bonuses, and a minimum $50,000 yearly salary to its players.
Jack Etienne, the CEO and cofounder of the esports organization Cloud9, bought the newest team for London, and Stan and Josh Kroenke, who own sports teams like NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, have bought the second team for L.A.
The Kroenkes’ interest is just the latest investment from traditional sports owners in the burgeoning esports scene. The esports market is expected to grow to $696 million this year, and Blizzard has been pushing to give its hit multiplayer shooter a competitive edge. Along with the Overwatch League, it also hosts the Overwatch World Cup tournament at its annual fan event BlizzCon. The shooter has found a ton of success since its launch last year, with over 30 million players on PC and consoles and healthy interest in its ongoing in-game events and loot drops.