THE professional esports league for the popular first-person shooter online video game Overwatch has announced six new franchises, bringing its global total to 20 heading into its second season.
The Overwatch League introduced clubs in Paris, Washington, Toronto, Vancouver and Chinese teams in Chengdu and Hangzhou. The league added franchises in Atlanta and Guangzhou earlier this season.
The Paris team will be operated by Drew McCourt, the son of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner and current owner of French football club Olympique de Marseille Frank McCourt.
Paris joins London as the only European Overwatch League franchises. The league will have 11 US teams, two in Canada, one in Seoul and four in China, including the existing Shanghai club.
The push into China is critical for the league, which drew much of its viewership from China in its first season, despite having just one franchise located there, according to Pete Vlastelica, CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues.
Overwatch has expanded its reach and added potentially pivotal partners in Huya and Bilibili, streaming platforms that purchased the Chengdu and Hangzhou clubs respectively.
The league had agreements to stream matches on NetEase, Douyu and Panda last season — NetEase owns the Shanghai franchise — but Vlastelica said the league is in discussions to shuffle that arrangement for 2019.
London beat Philadelphia for the inaugural Overwatch League championship in July.
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