Major traditional sports teams from around the world are moving into esports.
From FIFA players to League of Legends teams, professional gaming is becoming its own branch of mainstream sports brands that sense a huge opportunity in the exploding esports market.
We’ve created a handy guide to keep you updated on the team’s involved and their latest ventures in the various competitive scenes. This does not include investments by individual sports stars, such as Rodger Saffold and Rise Nation or Rick Fox and Echo Fox.
List to date as follows:
It was announced on October 4th 2016 that France’s biggest football (soccer) club, Paris Saint-Germain, would be creating an esports franchise. Teaming up with French media company, Webedia, they announced they’d be the first major French sports team to get involved with competitive gaming. Further announcements are expected in late October 2016 on how the operation will work.
On September 26th, the Philadelphia 76ers became the first sports team in North America to dip into competitive gaming with the huge purchase of team diginitas. Operating for over 13 years and housing some of the best gamers in the world, the amount has yet to be disclosed, but sources claim it could be around $5-$15 million. The esports element will continue to operate under the dignitas brand.
On the 22nd of September, Dutch football club, Ajax, announced they would be picking up the top FIFA talent from the region in Koen Weijland. He was presented the number 39 jersey by former goalkeeper and current director, Edwin van der Sar, at the Amsterdam Arena. In a statement they have promised that they will support him in both major FIFA tournaments and connecting young fans to the club with activities.
On the 10th of August 2016 an announcement was made by the Dutch football club of PSV Eindhoven. They revealed they would be breaking into esports with a FIFA 17 squad, decided by a tournament held at the Phillips Stadium once the new game is released. Perks of the position will include the full use of the PSV training facilities and inclusion within the annual team photograph.
On Wednesday 20th of July, Sporting Portugal confirmed they had stepped into esports after rumours have circulated amongst the press. Initially announcing they would be moving into FIFA, they also revealed they had brought on a number of management in order to head up their competitive gaming division. Do you want to be part of the Sporting Portugal team? You can enter into a competition to become one of their FIFA players.
The latest football club to join the party. On Wednesday 6th July, City announced their recruitment of a young FIFA player and his role at the helm of their new esports division. The move follows rumours that bitter rivals Manchester United were in a bidding war with Fnatic over an Overwatch team. It is currently believed that Man City will stick to the FIFA space for now.
The second biggest football club in Germany (behind Bayern Munich) announced that they’d picked up two FIFA players and a premier European League of Legends team. The bold move suggests big plans for a sports giant that is already doing plenty to promote their esports activity in the media.
David Bytheway from Wolverhampton was picked up by the German football club of Wolfsburg. The city well known for its ties to car manufacturer, Volkswagen, were the first major European football club to stake a claim in esports. The organisation look committed on FIFA and have yet to make an advance into other titles.
After placing second at the 2016 FIFA Interactive World Cup, Sean ‘Dragonn’ Allan was scooped up by Premier League Club, West Ham Utd. Despite receiving backlash from fans who were concerned about the direction of the club, it’s rumoured the London based club has further esport expansion plans outside of the football title.
With Man City now on board and other clubs including Man Utd waiting in the wings, West Ham will always officially known as the first UK club to get involved with esports.
The Valencia esports reveal was a bit of a mess as invites were leaked by the media ahead of the announcement. The press conference to reveal the Hearthstone players also turned out to be a bit of a farce as the mainstream Spanish media were unable to grasp the concept of esports, with the half an hour session revolving around asking what it was. On a positive note, the club advised they will be expanding rapidly and plan to host their own Rocket League tournaments in association with Playstation.
The Turkish football club of Beskitas picked up a League of Legends team, formerly known as Aces High. They’ve had a slight rebranding and are now called Beşiktaş OHM, competing in the Turkish Champions League, playing in the traditional black and white striped jerseys.
The Spanish basketball team decided it’d get involved in esports in early 2016, picking up a League of Legends team that competes on a domestic level. Expanding rapidly, the club has also ventured into Call of Duty, CS:GO, FIFA, Hearthstone and NBA2K.
The Brazilian football club of Santos, known for their black and white stripes, merged with the esports outfit of Dexterity. They now play home to top Brazilian teams in Call of Duty teams, League of Legends, Battlefield 4 and Crossfire.
Football club FC Volga, currently in the second division of Russia’s football league, announced its recruitment of a FIFA player on the 29th of July.