Valencia CF, the 93-year-old Spanish soccer club, now has an e-sports team. The announcement, made yesterday at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium, marks yet another high-profile entrance in the competitive gaming space. Valencia joins other European soccer clubs like FC Schalke and West Ham United, and potential titles include Rocket League, FIFA, and Hearthstone.
It may surprise quite a few people to know that soccer teams are getting involved with competitive gaming. But e-sports is a fast-growing market with huge profit potential. More traditional sports teams are scooping up either free agents in the e-sports world to form squads or acquiring already-established teams to compete in tournaments. The move also raises awareness of the traditional Valencia brand among those viewers and fans who may be more inclined to watch a League of Legends match instead of an on-field showdown with Real Madrid. Valencia’s official press release puts it quite succinctly:
eSports has quickly become a multimillion euro industry and Valencia once again has shown themselves to be on the cutting edge by setting up a team that will fly the club colours around the world.
The phenomenon has made a dramatic impact in Asia and eSports professionals in countries like South Korea are treated similarly to La Liga stars in Spain. Arenas are packed out by spectators, and also with the help of major sponsorship deals, the industry generates thousands of millions each year.