Season 2 of the Overwatch League (OWL) is set to start on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14). The league has expanded from 12 teams to 20, so the 2018 champion London Spitfire now has more challengers for the title.
Among them is the Boston Uprising, which landed a big fish this week when they signed Bose Corporation as a sponsor. Bose is a privately held entity based in Framingham, Massachusetts and is one of the world’s most recognized names in audio equipment: the corporation made USD$3.8 billion in revenue in 2017. Jennifer Ferron, chief marketing officer for Kraft Sports Group (which own the Uprising and the National Football League’s New England Patriots), welcomed the addition of a known brand.
“(Bose is) a great company. They’ve done a lot with the Kraft Group for a number of years now. They want to be in this space making headwear and headsets that gamers can use, so this gives us an opportunity to help them develop that.”
Last Saturday at the Enthusiast Live Gaming Expo (EGLX), the Toronto Defiant announced the signings of its fist two players: Kang-jae “Envy” Lee (flex tank) and Se-hyeon “Neko” Park (flex support). Envy played for the Los Angeles Valiant last season and has been named Toronto’s captain; Neko is a 20-year-old who played for Boston and was an Atlantic Division All-Star.
The two signings are strong additions to a formidable squad, which had already inked Kyeongmu “Yakpung” Cho (main tank), Jae Yoon “Aid” Ko (main support), Seunghyeon “Ivy” Lee (DPS) and Dohyung “Stellar” Lee (DPS). Toronto’s head coach is Beom-joon “Bishop” Lee, who led the Spitfire on their championship run.
Meanwhile, with one month to go until preseason begins, the Vancouver team has yet to reveal any public information, including the name, the branding and player signings. Calgary-based Luminosity Gaming has been put in charge, and the company has experience with esports. LG currently fields players and teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. So far, though, neither they nor Vancouver’s ownership (the Aquilini Group, which owns the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks via Canucks Sports and Entertainment) have provided any inkling of structure or organization.
They are not alone: three China-based teams in the Pacific Division (Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hangzhou) and the Washington and Paris franchises in the Atlantic Division also seem to be in the planning stages at the moment. Unless there has been activity behind the scenes, it could be a rush job to throw together teams and identities for those franchises in time for the first preseason matches on Dec. 6.
According to league rules, all teams must have a minimum of eight players under contract by Dec. 1, so Vancouver and the other laggards still have time to get it together. The moves already undertaken by the Toronto Defiant provide a template for the Vancouver side and the others to boost their efforts to declare their intentions to the esports world and build their brands.
– Bo Ramone