Cloud9 and the Kroenke family are the two newest ownership groups to buy into the Overwatch League, bringing the total number of teams in the league up to nine.
Cloud9 has purchased the London, England spot in the OWL, and joins fellow endemic esports organizations Immortals, Misfits and NRG Esports in the league. Meanwhile, Stan and Josh Kroenke are the latest traditional sports investors to buy in to the OWL, and will take the league's second Los Angeles spot.
Stan Kroenke owns Kroenke Sports and Etertainment, which in turn owns the LA Rams, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche and Arsenal Football Club, among other traditional sports teams. His son, Josh Kroenke, is the co-owner of the organization's Colorado assets, and is listed in Blizzard's press release as the co-founder of KSE esports.
"Building communities around the best competitive experiences in the world is incredibly rewarding, and the Overwatch League offers the chance to create something special,” Josh Kroenke said in a statement. “We’re impressed by the vision and strategy for the League, and we’re going to build a great team for Los Angeles that inspires fans near and far."
The Kroenkes will share Los Angeles with Immortals, though the two organizations will have entirely separate teams. According to a Blizzard representative, there are no concerns that the teams will have trouble sharing the LA market. Blizzard also stated that both organizations were made aware that the city could host two OWL teams before purchasing their spots.
While Cloud9 is primarily known for their North American esports teams and players, C9 co-founder and CEO Jack Etienne says that taking the London spot was his choice, and while he could have chosen a different location, he wanted to leverage C9's strong European fanbase.
"If you look at where Cloud9 fans are, we're certainly a global brand at this point, with a large percentage of our fans coming from Europe," Etienne said. "So you can see several examples of where different teams across different games have shown up to events and essentially have a hometown crowd. People have Cloud9 shirts, they're chanting for Cloud9. We're certainly not pigeonholed into North America and the opportunity to represent London and much of England for the most part with our really strong fanbase already there, it's just an amazing opportunity for Cloud9."
C9's roster will eventually have to move to London as part of the city-based teams structure of the OWL, and Etienne says that C9 will open an office and training facility in the city when they do move. Additionally, he says that while C9 has the option of keeping their existing Overwatch roster when the OWL begins, the organization will take a look at their players to field the strongest possible roster.
"My hope is to build a strong team that really represents London and England well, and I think that it's going to be super exciting to have this league that every week will have global viewership," Etienne said. "I think we're going to see numbers that are really startling to a lot of the other esports out there because they're reaching a whole global population."
The Overwatch League still does not have a set start date, but in July, league commissioner Nate Nanzer told theScore esports that it is still scheduled to begin later this year.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.