US video game developer Activision Blizzard is lining up new teams representing Paris and Guangzhou for its Overwatch League esports competition as part of a broader expansion process, according to ESPN.com.
The 2017-18 Overwatch League inaugural season concludes with the Grand Finals starting today (Friday) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The debut campaign has consisted of 12 teams, but only three of these represent cities outside the US – London, Shanghai and Seoul.
ESPN, citing league sources, said the Paris team will be owned by McCourt Global, the Los Angeles-based holding company that also controls French Ligue 1 football team Olympique de Marseille. The Guangzhou franchise will reportedly be acquired by the Nenking Group, the umbrella company of Chinese billionaire Zhong Naixiong and the ownership group of Chinese Basketball Association team Guangzhou Long-Lions.
ESPN added that the league expects to sell six expansion slots within the next month, focusing on markets outside the US. Expansion teams are set to fetch between $30m (€25.5m) and $60m, with the original franchises having been sold for $20m apiece.
Earlier this month, US sports broadcaster ESPN made its biggest commitment to date in esports by agreeing a multi-year rights deal for the Overwatch League.
The deal with Overwatch operator Blizzard Entertainment was announced on July 11 and commenced immediately with playoff coverage across ESPN platforms and digital cable and satellite television channel DisneyXD.