Activision Blizzard went in a unique direction when it came to Overwatch League teams.
Esports organizations field teams with identical branding in games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. This will see organizations like Natus Vincere, Cloud9, and Team Liquid field teams in multiple games with the same logos and jerseys.
Once the publisher took over the Overwatch pro scene, it opted to end that practice. In the same way Pittsburgh has the Steelers in the NFL, Pirates in MLB, and Penguins in the NHL, Activision Blizzard expected similarly unique brands to be introduced through the Overwatch League.
This has left many fans confused as to who owns teams like the London Spitfire and Vancouver Titans. Here is a comprehensive list of the owners of each Overwatch League teams.
The San Francisco Shock enjoyed an extraordinary 2019 OWL season, which was a great boon for its owners at NRG Esports. NRG has competed in a slew of esports titles, primarily shooters. Some of its greatest successes have come in battle royales but it has also competed in games such as Counter-Strike and Gears of War.
In addition to owning the San Francisco franchise for OWL, NRG also owns the Chicago Huntsman of the upcoming Call of Duty League.
The Florida Mayhem were one of the first 12 Overwatch League teams, with Misfits Gaming scooping up the franchise. Misfits initially made that connection more obvious by outfitting the team in yellow, red, and black, colors that the team has worn at different points in its history.
Today, that connection is less clear. The team has undergone a few different palette swaps, currently donning neon blue and purple.
Immortals has made a point of expanding into every prominent esports title and branching out by operating under multiple brands. Though the Immortals brand is well-known unto itself, the company also owns Counter-Strike team MiBR and operated OpTic Gaming after acquiring it in 2019. OpTic Gaming’s memory remains alive today in the Call of Duty League.
This might come as a surprise, but Immortals works in Overwatch as the Los Angeles Valiant. The organization has minimal shared branding and has a completely unique look from its parent company, but Immortals was among the first organizations to buy into the Overwatch League.
The Houston Outlaws franchise was originally owned by OpTic Gaming, but that changed following Immortals’ acquisition of the company. The Overwatch League expressly forbids anyone from having an ownership stake in multiple franchises, which forced Immortals to sell the franchise.
That buyer ended up being Beasley Media Group. The Beasley Media Group is a publicly traded media company that operates radio stations across the United States. They have no prior esports experience, making their entry into the league somewhat surprising.
The Boston Uprising is owned and operated by the Kraft Group. Not to be confused with Kraft Foods, the Uprising are owned by Bob Kraft alongside other Massachusetts-based sports teams including the New England Patriots and New England Revolution.
The Kraft Group has no other presence in esports and likely honed in on the Overwatch League as an opportunity to expand into the emerging esports industry with a Boston-branded team.
As with the Boston Uprising, the Los Angeles Gladiators are under the umbrella of a number of traditional sports organizations. Kroenke Sports and Entertainment owns a slew of sports teams including Arsenal Football Club, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Denver Nuggets. Kroenke doubled down on Activision Blizzard esports by purchasing the Los Angeles Guerrillas franchise in Call of Duty League.
Shortly after announcing their joining the Overwatch League, Kroenke announced that the Gladiators would be managed by the Phoenix1 esports organization, which was later rebranded as Sentinels. The two sides split apart in 2019 following a legal dispute, with Kroenke taking over operations of the team.
As the name suggests, the Vancouver Titans’ owner, Canucks Sports and Entertainment, also happens to own the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks franchise. To make this connection even more clear, the Canucks and Titans have a similar color scheme.
Notably, Canucks Sports and Entertainment works with Luminosity Gaming. The organization helps operate the Titans on a number of fronts, with the two brands maintaining fairly close ties publicly.
Cloud9 is one of the largest esports organizations in the world, operating teams in Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and many more. Cloud9 was also an early entrant into the race to lock up an Overwatch League franchise, competing in the inaugural season.
The move paid off for Cloud9 from a competitive perspective. The Spitfire enjoyed a strong inaugural season, winning the first OWL championship.
OverActive Media is a media company that has operations across video games. OAM has invested in Enthusiast Gaming, which owns prominent video game websites such as The Escapist and Destructoid. The company expanded into esports and acquired Splyce, an organization it previously invested in, and its Overwatch League franchise in 2018.
Splyce has since been shuttered, but OverActive Media’s esports operations have grown. Alongside the Defiant, it runs the Toronto Ultra in the Call of Duty League, and MAD Lions which fields teams in League of Legends and CSGO.
Comcast Spectacor is a major player in the Philadelphia sports scene. The side hustle of gargantuan telecommunications company Comcast owns the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, as well as the Wells Fargo Center that is home to the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. The company branched out into esports with the Philadelphia Fusion, but Comcast Spectacor’s interest in the industry doesn’t end there.
The company also is part of a joint venture with SK Telecom, the South Korean telecommunications company behind legendary League of Legends team SK Telecom T1. The pair are looking to establish the T1 brand as an identifiable esports brand on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
Drew McCourt is the son of the owner of French football club Olympique de Marseille, Frank McCourt. McCourt is following in his father’s footsteps with esports, bringing Paris its own team in the Overwatch League. Since purchasing the OWL franchise to found the Paris Eternal, McCourt has begun expanding across other esports titles.
Earlier this year, c0ntact Gaming was revealed with the acquisition of CR4ZY’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team. The organization is likely preparing to use that as a launchpad to a major expansion across esports.
The Samsung Galaxy team was a force in League of Legends, and eventually started looking to expand beyond the realms of both LoL and the electronics manufacturer. The team rebranded to Generation Gaming and expanded operations across a number of different titles.
Though Gen.G has recently put a great deal of effort into establishing itself abroad with North American teams in Fortnite, Apex Legends, and CSGO, Gen.G stayed true to its South Korean roots with Overwatch by purchasing the franchise for the nation’s capital, Seoul. The team has consistently fielded all-Korean Overwatch rosters to this point, but has struggled to live up to the lofty expectations of its fans.
Chinese business laws require most foreign corporations to establish a partnership with a local company in order to sell their products to the public at large. Though Blizzard is partly owned by finance juggernaut Tencent Holdings, Blizzard does much of its business in China through telecommunications company NetEase.
Likely in an effort to help promote Overwatch at home, NetEase scooped up a franchise in OWL’s first season and established the league’s first team in China with the Shanghai Dragons. Though the team will forever be known as a lovable loser for its disastrously, winless inaugural season, the team reversed its fortunes in season two by posting a strong year highlighted by winning the stage three playoffs.
Atlanta Esports Ventures is a partnership between Province, Inc. and Cox Enterprises. Province specializes in financial consultancy but likely isn’t as recognizable to the public at large. Cox might ring a bell, however.
Cox Enterprises has subsidiaries including major telecommunications company Cox Communications. It also owns Cox Media Group, a media company that operates a number of television stations, newspapers, and radio stations across the United States. In addition to the Atlanta Reign, Atlanta Esports Ventures also owns the Call of Duty League franchise Atlanta FaZe.
Zhong Naixiong is one of China’s richest citizens and founder of the Nenking Group. Though the Nenking Group is a conglomerate that operates in a number of different industries including finance, real estate, and pharmaceuticals, it also has a number of operations in sports.
Nenking runs the Guangzhou Long-Lions basketball team in the Chinese Basketball Association and French football club FC Sochaux-Montbéliard. The Guangzhou Charge is the first push into esports for Naixiong and Nenking.
Rui Chen is the CEO of bilibili, a Shanghai-based video streaming site that has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Bilibili is among the most popular websites in the world and has served as a launching point for Chen to enter into the esports world.
Bilibili entered esports in 2017 with the acquisition of League of Legends team I May, which was then rebranded as Bilibili Gaming. Bilibili also maintains separate operations involving broadcasts for China’s top League of Legends League, the LPL, as well as other international LoL events.
Bilibili isn’t the only Chinese streaming site that has made its way into the Overwatch League with the Chengdu Hunters and its academy team, LGE.Huya. Huya has been labeled as “China’s Twitch” due to its focus on video game live streaming. The site has the Chinese broadcast rights for a number of international esports leagues including ESL, LCS, LEC, and LCK.
That said, Huya doesn’t just broadcast esports events. It also operates leagues in esports titles, including the Huya Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pro League.
Team EnVyUs first burst onto the scene in 2007 by becoming one of the top Call of Duty teams of its era. It maintained that presence in the game throughout while also becoming one of the fearsome organizations in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as well. EnVyUs’s all-French roster enjoyed massive success, achieving major championship glory. As time went on, EnVyUs dropped its French roster to completely entrench itself as a top North American brand.
That move was followed by the acquisition of the Dallas OWL franchise, which saw the team start to represent the state of Texas, specifically. They doubled down on this by also picking up the Call of Duty League franchise for the Dallas Empire.
Depending on who you talk to, Jeff Wilpon is either a scapegoat in Major League Baseball or the ultimate example of someone who isn’t as smart as they think they are. The son of New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, he has been criticized on several occasions for meddling in the team’s operations and hurting their chances of becoming one of baseball’s better teams.
How much of that is true, and how much of it is disgruntled fans just trying to find someone to blame for their favorite team’s woes? That’s unknown, but Wilpon has a team of his own to operate now with the New York Excelsior through Sterling.VC. Wilpon is looking to bring more titles to the major sports city and carry on New York’s proud sporting rivalries with the cities of Boston and Philadelphia.
The Washington Justice franchise is owned by Washington Esports Ventures, a company founded by Mark Ein. Ein founded Capitol Investment IV and the Venturehouse Group, a private equity financial company that focuses on Washington, DC.
Though most of Venturehouse Group is related to tech and finance, the Justice has a sister sports team in the Washington Kastles squad in World TeamTennis.