Expansion to eSports?
Recently Spanish basketball club El Baskonia took under its wing 6 eSports teams. This event provide much for contemplations: will such acquirements become a widespread practice? Did anything similar happen before? What can this mean for eSports industry? We'll try to give answers to these questions in this article.
El Baskonia is not a pioneer in acquiring eSports teams. In the beginning of 2015, the Turkish organization Beşiktaş (Beşiktaş Jimnastik Kulübü - Beşiktaş Gymnastics Club) signed a contract with League of Legends teams. The representative of Beşiktaş, Metin Albayrak said: "As always, we are the first to do something revolutionary in the history of Turkish sports. The world is changing, and for our new generation, computers and the Internet mean a lot. Thanks to our friends, we now have a new unit that will not compete on the field, but online." Furthermore, the expenditures for an eSports team were claimed to be much lower as compared to those of the other kinds of sports. Therefore, it was much easier for Beşiktaş organization to decide to make this move, since the losses will be insubstantial in case of failure.
An eSports team has been playing under the tag of Beşiktaş for eight months now on a par with football, volleyball and basketball squads. The guys have won the first places at TCL Winter Playoffs and International Wild Card Invitational. The team underwent changes in the end of June. Anyway Turkish Beşiktaş is now and forever the first sports organization, which acquired an eSports team. By the way, in may 2015 года German eSports club Wolfsburg signed a partnership agreement with the FIFA players of MeetYourMakers. This is the second time, that professional sports organization began partners with eSports team.
As we mentioned before, the management of El Baskonia became interested in eSports. However, the Spanish sports club decided to go further than League of Legends and signed contracts with the players, representing all the popular eSports titles. They created their own eSports club – Atlantis Baskonia, in partnership with Atlantis Esports. Ana Oliveras, CEO of the Atlantis Esports, comments: "This is undoubtedly a step that brings us much closer to professionalism for players in esports. Seeing a club as prestigious as Baskonia decide to take the plunge and enter a world that is booming, can encourage other clubs to be interested in doing the same".
The organizations will have the following divisions: Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Hearthstone, NBA 2K and FIFA. As per moment all the players of El Baskonia are the Spaniards.
The Dota 2 squad has been already announced:
- Julio «lavel» Bravo Ferrer
- Jaume «Argoniur» Torner
- Enrique «Guito» Gonzalez
- Sergio «Serva» Luna
- Alberto «Aldebaran» Reolid
Why buy eSports clubs?
Beşiktaş and El Baskonia created well-known brands, which hardly need any advertising. Furthermore, they are supposedly wealthy. Therefore, there's a question, why did they buy eSports teams?
Before answering this question, let's recall that today many teams and organization invest much money in the eSports industry. Among them is 18+ website YouPorn, who took a Dota 2 team under its wing in late 2014, and an e-shop Amazon, which bought live-stream service Twitch TV. By the way, Twitch TV in its turn bought GoodGame Agency, which owned such prominent organizations, as Evil Geniuses, Team Alliance and Team Tinker. The interest of the organizations, which aren't connected with eSports, towards the live-stream services is due not only to the quantity of active viewers, but also to their age. The average age of the audience is beyond 35 years old, and this is the audience of the great interest for advertisers.
What is the interest of sports organizations and companies, which do not work in eSports? First of all, it is the audience, which can be interesting for a potential advertiser for both the size and the age. Furthermore eSports provides new opportunities to traditional eSports organizations, since the work with teenagers and young adults supports the recognizability of the brand at the necessary level. Surely the perspective of incomes, which are rising along with the increase of prize pool, crowns the list.
Surely many people are still quite skeptical about eSports industry. However, if the pioneers in this area will show other organizations that eSports is profitable and attractive for advertisers, in future each professional sports club will have its own eSports squad.