September 7, 2018 11:48 am
Updated: September 7, 2018 9:25 pm

Overwatch League expanding to Canada with teams in Toronto, Vancouver

WATCH ABOVE: Toronto is a world-famous sports town and it has professional teams for almost every major sport, but video games are the exception. Matthew Bingley reports on how Toronto is getting into the game.

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The Overwatch League is expanding and heading north of the border.

The new esports league just finished its inaugural season in August and Activision Blizzard, the company behind the popular game, is looking to add a handful of new teams to the league.

Eight new teams have been confirmed by Activision Blizzard including two in Canada: one in Toronto and one in Vancouver.

OverActive Media is the ownership group behind the Toronto franchise and while no name, colours or roster have been chosen yet, president and CEO Chris Overholt, who most recently was the president and CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, says the process is well underway.

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“I could not be more excited to be leading OverActive Media and Toronto’s professional Overwatch League team which already has an incredible and passionate fan base in our country, one that is growing by the day,” said Overholt in a release. “We have a clear vision and mission to build a world-leading professional esports company based in Toronto that will excite and inspire a new generation of fans in our market, across Canada and around the globe.”

This is OverActive’s first foray into esports but the company has hired Splyce Inc., an esports management organization, to build a roster and to be responsible for the team’s competitive activities including coaching, scouting and management.

“Overwatch League has absolutely shattered my expectations, it is an incredibly competitive sport globally, but we are confident that with the backing of OverActive Media, the Toronto team has everything we need to not just be competitive, but to quickly establish ourselves as a league leader,” said Splyce CEO Marty Strenczewilk.

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According to OverActive, Canadians accounted for the third-largest viewing audience for the Overwatch League last season, just behind the United States and South Korea.

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The Vancouver team will be owned and operated by the Aquilini group, the same group that owns the Vancouver Canucks and according to managing director Francesco Aquilini, the team will be the go-to for Canadian fans in the west.

“Esports has seen extraordinary success and continues to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the world,” said Aquilini in a release. “The Overwatch League has visionary leadership, strong franchises, and connects with millions of players globally. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to expand into esports and we can’t wait to launch the team in Vancouver, which will also represent fans across the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle and Portland.”

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Other teams joining the fray this year include Chengdu, Hangzhou, Paris, and Washington, D.C.

OverActive Media was founded as a partnership between co-founders Sheldon Pollack, Adam Adamou, and Michael Kimel who will serve as the team owner.

The second season of the Overwatch League is scheduled to begin in early 2019.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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