Eight teams paid more than $30 million each to join the Overwatch League – here's everything you need to know before the new season starts

Bryan Bedder/Stringer/Getty ImagesLondon Spitfire overcame the Philadelphia Fusion to win the first Overwatch League championship.
  • “Overwatch” is one of the most popular video games in the world, and the international Overwatch League allows the best players to compete as paid professionals.
  • The 2019 Overwatch League season will start on February 14 with a rematch between last year’s grand finalists, the Philadelphia Fusion and defending champion London Spitfire.
  • Eight new teams have joined the Overwatch League for its upcoming second season, bringing the total number of international teams to 20. Activision Blizzard, the parent company of the Overwatch League, reportedly asked for $US30 to $US60 million from each new franchise.
  • Overwatch League players receive a minimum salary of $US50,000, healthcare, housing during the season, and a retirement plan. There are about 170 contracted players involved with the league.
  • The Overwatch League season one finals brought in 10.8 million viewers, according to parent company Activision Blizzard. The finals were streamed on Twitch and broadcast on ABC, ESPN, and Disney XD.

“Overwatch” is one of the most popular video games in the world, and the best players can pursue a career playing the game through the Overwatch League, an international esports league dedicated to the first-person shooter.

Overwatch League’s first season launched in December 2017 with 12 teams, nine of which are based in the United States. Those teams signed up players from across the globe, offering a minimum salary of $US50,000 and a shot at another $US3.8 million in prize money. The season one finals brought in 10.8 million viewers across Twitch, ABC, ESPN, Disney XD and Twitch, according to “Overwatch” publisher and league owner Activision Blizzard.

The 2019 Overwatch League season will start on February 14 with a rematch between last year’s grand finalists, the Philadelphia Fusion, and defending champion London Spitfire.

As it enters its second season, the Overwatch League has added eight new teams, expanding the roster to 20 international franchises. According to Jacob Wolf of ESPN, Activision Blizzard asked each new expansion team to pay between $US30 and $US60 million for the rights to join the league. The 12 founding teams reportedly paid $US20 million each to participate in the inaugural season, meaning that the cost of buying in is going up.

The new teams will expand the international scope of the league with three expansions in China (Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Guangzhou), two in Canada (Toronto and Vancouver), and a team based in Paris. The U.S. welcomes new teams in Washington D.C., and Atlanta. At the bottom of this post you can find a list can see every Overwatch League team, their parent organisations (in parenthesis), and their team colours.

Here’s what you need to know about the Overwatch League, the teams, and the key games to watch this season.


Overwatch League turns players into professionals

Overwatch League

Each Overwatch team can sign up to 12 salaried players, and the league currently employs more than 170 players in total. Overwatch League players earn a minimum salary of $US50,000 a year – complete with healthcare, a retirement savings plan and housing during the course of the season. All Overwatch League players need to be 18 years old by June 1, 2019 to compete.

Top players in the league are reportedly earning more than six figures, and this season Activision is letting teams sign players to contracts that extend up to three years.

Teams acquired players through free agency prior to the start of the season. Expansion teams got first dibs on signing new players from September 9th, while the free agency signing period opened up to all 20 yeams on October 8th. Each Overwatch team was required to sign a minimum of eight players to their pro roster for the 2019 season.


Overwatch Contenders helps develop new talent

Overwatch Contenders

To help develop new professional talent, the Overwatch League also has a regional minor league system called Overwatch Contenders. There will be eight Contenders regions in 2019, with eight teams in each region.

Players on a Contenders team can sign a two-way contract with an Overwatch League squad that allows them to compete in both leagues during the season, while earning the same basic benefits as a full-time League player. The only drawback is that a player cannot compete with both their Contenders team and their Overwatch League team in the same week.


2019 Overwatch League schedule and prizes

Overwatch LeagueA group of Los Angeles Valiant fans cheer for their squad.

The 2019 Overwatch League season will start on February 14 with a rematch between last year’s grand finalists the Philadelphia Fusion, and defending champion London Spitfire.

Each team will play a 28-match schedule spread across four 5-week periods during the year. Regular season matches will conclude in August and the eight best teams will qualify for the playoffs. Activision Blizzard is offering a $US5 million prize pool spread throughout the season, including a $US1.1 million purse for the season 2 champions.

The majority of the regular season matches will be played in the league’s main arena in Burbank, California, but three teams – the Dallas Fuel, Atlanta Reign, and Los Angeles Valiant – will host matches in their home cities during special weekend events.


Attending live Overwatch League events

Overwatch LeagueThe Overwatch League season one Grand Finals were held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

Like any traditional sporting event, fans can buy tickets for single events or for the length of the season and cheer on their favourite teams from the crowd. The Overwatch League organizes a number of team signings and fan events over the course of the season too, helping the community stay connected to the players.

Every match will be available live and on-demand on the Overwatch League Twitch channel, as well as Overwatchleague.com,MLG.com, and their respective mobile apps. The opening week matchups will also be shown on Disney XD, and the league plans to broadcast more matches on TV in the future.


Things to look for during Season Two

Overwatch LeagueThe Shanghai Dragons didn’t win a single game during 2018, but they have still got plenty of fans.

While Overwatch League players have been enjoying the off-season, “Overwatch” has been constantly evolving with new updates, balance changes, and a new playable character, Ashe. Teams will need to adjust to their new rosters and employ different strategies as the new season gets underway.

The New York Excelsior (NYXL) was the most dominant team in the league last year, playing their way to a 34-6 win-loss record and a first round bye in the playoffs. NYXL ultimately fell to the 6th-ranked Philadelphia Fusion in the semifinals, and the 5th-ranked London Spitfire ultimately won the championship. The league’s first-season MVP was NYXL support player Seong-Hyun “Jjonak” Bang.

The inaugural Overwatch League season didn’t go great for everyone: the Shanghai Dragons failed to earn a single win during the 2018, ending the year with a disappointing 0-40 record. The Dragons retained three players from their winless team and added six new faces to try and turn their fortunes around in 2019.

The Dragons will have to deal with nearly twice as many teams this year though, and with the league schedule shrinking from 40 to 28 matches per team, squads will have fewer chances to rematch with their opponents.


The teams and investors that make up the Overwatch League

Overwatch LeagueThe logos of all 20 Overwatch League teams from the first season.

This year’s standings will be tough to predict, with eight new teams and dozens of new players joining the fray. Every team will be working to help their players gain an edge in competition, and give their fans something to root for.

Overwatch League team owners range from professional sports teams and media companies, to institutional esports organisations. Beyond revenue sharing from ticket and merchandise sales, teams can generate revenue sales of their in-game uniforms and local sponsorship deals.

Below you can see every Overwatch League team, their parent organisations (in parenthesis), and their team colours.


London Spitfire (Cloud9)

Overwatch League

Philadelphia Fusion (Comcast Spectacor)

Overwatch League

Houston Outlaws (OpTic Gaming, Infinite Esports & Entertainment)

Overwatch League

Florida Mayhem (Misfits)

Overwatch League

Seoul Dynasty (Gen.G)

Overwatch League

Los Angeles Valiant (Immortals)

Overwatch League

San Francisco Shock (NRG Esports)

Overwatch League

Shanghai Dragons (NetEase)

Overwatch League

New York Excelsior (Sterling.VC/New York Mets)

Overwatch League

Los Angeles Gladiators (Kroenke Sports & Entertainment)

Overwatch League

Boston Uprising (Kraft Group)

Overwatch League

Hangzhou Spark (Bilibili)

Overwatch League

Chengdu Hunters (Huya)

Overwatch League

Washington Justice (Washington Esports Ventures, Washington Kastles)

Overwatch League

Paris Eternal (DM Esports, McCourt Global)

Overwatch League

Atlanta Reign (Atlanta Esports Ventures, Cox Enterprises, Providence)

Overwatch League

Guangzhou Charge (Nenking Group)

Overwatch League

Vancouver Titans (Aquilini Investment Group)

Overwatch League

Toronto Defiant (OverActive Media, Splyce)

Overwatch League

Dallas Fuel (Team Envy)

Overwatch League

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