Company behind Toronto Defiant Overwatch League team raises another $22 million

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — OverActive Media, the esports company behind the expansion Toronto Defiant Overwatch League franchise, has raised more than $22 million in its latest round of equity funding

Monday’s announcement follows a $21.5-million initial round of funding in October.

OverActive says the new funds came from current and new shareholders, including institutional, corporate and private investors. It declined to identify the new investors.

“This is another key milestone in the evolution of OverActive Media into a premier global esports ownership platform,” OverActive president and CEO Chris Overholt said in a statement.

OverActive Media’s original investors include tech entrepreneur Sheldon Pollack, venture capitalist Adam Adamou and Michael Kimel, part-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and co-founder of the Chase Hospitality Group.

The new money will be used to finance the Toronto Defiant, as well as finalizing OverActive’s acquisition of Splyce, a U.S. company that has a stable of international esports teams including the newly awarded League of Legends franchise in Europe.

The Splyce acquisition, announced in November, is expected to close in the next thirty days.

Splyce, which will remain in Rochester, N.Y., as a wholly owned subsidiary of OverActive, will have primary responsibility for team operations under the combined ownership group.

Vancouver is also joining the Overwatch League, with Canucks Sports & Entertainment chairman Francesco Aquilini at the helm. The Vancouver franchise is partnering with Luminosity Gaming, a successful Canadian esports organization.

Toronto and Vancouver are two of eight expansion teams in the second year of the 20-team esports league.

The Toronto Defiant are scheduled to open their inaugural season Feb. 15 against the Houston Outlaws while the Vancouver Titans start the next day against the Shanghai Dragons.

The inaugural 2018 Overwatch season featured 12 teams: Boston Uprising, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior and Philadelphia Fusion in the Atlantic Division and Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty and Shanghai Dragons in the Pacific Division.

Other expansion franchises for 2019 are Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Paris, and Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hangzhou, China.

London won the inaugural league championship — and US$1 million — in July, defeating Philadelphia 3-0 at a sold-out Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Philadelphia collected US$400,000 as runner-up.

The league will stage its games at Blizzard’s esports arena in Burbank, Calif., in 2019 with plans to host games in the franchise cities in 2020.

“Overwatch,” a team-based first-person shooter, has spawned a blue-chip esports league backed by big names and big money.

The league is the brainchild of Overwatch developer Blizzard Entertainment, whose gaming portfolio also includes “World of Warcraft” and “StarCraft.” Overwatch has more than 40 million players.


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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