Traditional Sporting Teams buying into Esports

Esports Central – Episode 3

If you don’t know already, I’m on a new show, woooo. Check it all out here.

Oooo I’m on a show – it’s super fun!

What I thought I’d do is write a short post each week covering the things I didn’t have time to discuss on the episode. And let’s start with episode three, where we’re talking about traditional sporting organisations buying into esports – either by having their own teams or a strategic alignment.

Teams investing into esports

For the teams, it’s really good! We mentioned all the things that big organisations bring to the esports team – money, resources, PR, media, and more. That’s what they are good at, bringing the brand, and providing space for players. On the flip side the esports teams are good at engaging with the community and bringing a new crowd and a new audience to your organisation. This is something that I talk a lot about; everyone bringing their skills to the table to collaborate and make something amazing!

Next we talked about our Australian footy teams that have esports teams, such as Adelaide Crows and Legacy, as well as Essendon buying up Abyss. Plus there’s the A-League soccer teams that have FIFA players, both nationally and internationally. Something that was announced just before our episode is that the National Hockey League is launching an esports series for ice hockey. It will be in official partnership with EA Sports “NHL 18” and it is set to be an exciting tournament.

Bombers onboard Abyss as their esports team. Photo Credit: Respawn Ninja

Already we see esports tournaments for footy, soccer, ice hockey, basketball, and probably a few others I missed. I’m super keen to see what sports try to buy into esports next. Will we see horse racing, or quidditch (yep, it’s a thing), or maybe something more strategically aligned like Nitro Circus having an esports tournament around their skateboarding and other crazy things they do? Well we’ll have to wait and see what pans out for the industry over the next few years.

Motorsports in esports

This is something I find very interesting. As we mentioned in the episode, the skills required for car racing, and the skills needed for simulation driving, are very very similar. So similar in fact that real world drivers often compete in online racing competitions. The likes of Red Bull Racing, McLaren, and basically the whole of Formula 1, use simulators to hone their drivers’ skills on track.

In a sport where track time is limited, and a single session can cost thousands of dollars, simulators are the best way for drivers to get the practice they need to perform in the real world. As a result, many of the real world drivers are often seen online in R Factor or iRacing, competing against the top simulation drivers. Whilst not everything is 100% replicated, this type of practice is certainly better than no practice.

The collision of these two worlds – the real and the physical – is something I feel that the esports world is yet to see. We’ve already have the Formula E in Vegas, which has a total prize pool of over a million dollars, but what is it that the fans want to see? Do they want to see the best of the best in terms of simulators, or would they rather see all the on-screen action. It’s a difficult one to get the balance right.

On our home front here in Melbourne, we see Motum Simulation working with the AFL  and Etihad at the end of last year (read my full write up here) for the Virtual Sim Racing Showdown. We see a full motion simulator hosting Project Cars 2 – a game that is readily available on the shelves. Combining VR and movement, you get a spectacle that is very similar to the real world racing, bringing the worlds closer together. It’s definitely an experience and one everyone should try!

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Motum’s VSR series is partnered with Project Cars 2

The VSR Showdown was a huge hit, and word on the street is that there are more Virtual Sim Racing tournaments coming to Melbourne this year – keep your eyes peeled.

Other organisations trying to get into esports

What do companies really want with esports? Is it just another buzz word, like bitcoin, or innovation, that one must simply have their hands on even if they don’t understand what it is? Or is there something else at work here?

I think esports are only going to keep growing. With an industry that is worth over a billion dollars, it’s no wonder everyone wants a piece of the pie. If teams (be that sporting teams, gaming organisations, or other corporates) are going to invest in esports, I think they should take a leaf out of Nigel Smart’s book. As the COO of the Adelaide Crows, Nigel and the team didn’t just buy Legacy and tell them what to do. They researched the industry and worked out where they can best help the team. They allow the team to do their job – be awesome at games, and engage fans – whilst Crows bring their wealth of resources, branding, media, and more to the table. It’s a fantastic partnership that seems to be doing very well and I hope we see more teams and organisations take this stance.


Well that’s all from the esports front at the moment. Tune in each week to Esports Central on YouTube. Episodes air each Friday with us covering all the latest news, and deep diving into Overwatch, League, DOTA, and CSGO. I’ll try and put the article out on Friday just after the episode.

If there’s anything in particular you want to hear us talk about on the show, let me know what we’ll see what we can put in.

Happy watching (and playing) everyone!

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