Overwatch League to expand into Toronto, investment yet to be finalized

Canada's esports footprint well get a little bigger next season as OWL has targeted Toronto as the next North American expansion.

Final negotiations are being held to solidify a new team slot in the Overwatch League (OWL). Toronto, Ontario will reportedly play home to the expansion team, joining Atlanta, Georgia as the second new North American city targeted by this offseason’s expansion.

The OWL is aiming for six new teams to join the league for its second season, starting in 2019. Team signings in Atlanta and Guangzhou, China were announced earlier this month. In addition to North America and China, Paris is in the crosshairs. According to ESPN, the Toronto slot sold for around $35 million.

According to SportsBusiness Daily, the team will be run by global esports organization Splyce in conjunction with OverActive Media Group.

There is no arguing that the expansion would be good for Canadian esports. If the deal goes through, the Toronto OWL team would join Canada’s comparatively small esports scene. Often overshadowed by the thriving esports industry of the United States--nine of the 12 first-season OWL teams were based in the US-- Canada’s esports footprint has been increasing in size in recent years.

An OWL team would almost certainly be the most notable mark the country has made in esports. Even in traditional pro sports, Canada has a small profile. Only seven of the 31 NHL teams are Canadian, and only one in each the NBA and MLB.  

As GameDaily has reported before, $35 million sounds like a good chunk of change for an OWL expansion, but that number is put into perspective when considering that esports as an industry may earn upwards of $1 billion this year. With revenue only likely to climb over the next couple of years, it’s a wonder the Toronto slot didn’t sell for more.  

Sam has been freelancing since 2016, and has bylines at IGN, PCGamesN, PCGamer, and Unwinnable. When not writing about games, he is most likely taking care of his two dogs or pretending to know a lot about artisan coffee. Get in touch with Sam by emailing him at sdesatoff@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter.