Tuesday, August 3

Football clubs make the leap to League of Legends

  • Teams from all over the world start participating in tournaments of the world’s most popular battle video game

  • Before, clubs had already formed professional teams for football-related eSports

Dragons Barça fighting to the death against paladins of the Real Madrid. In a few years, the quintessential football classic could put the ball aside to free himself in the fictional worlds that hide behind the screen of your computer. And it is that more and more clubs professionals of soccer from all over the world who make the leap to that digital universe to conquer the sports, the electronic sports.

For some time now, to compete representing the colors of your favorite soccer team you no longer have to be an elite athlete. With a controller and a comfortable chair, young prodigies have become stars of video game As the FIFA or the Pro Evolution Soccer. However, now it will not even be necessary to play soccer, because some of those clubs are expanding their professional teams to the leagues of the League of Legends (LoL), the most important on the planet.

Although Barça and Madrid have not yet decided to take that step, their counterparts in Argentina have, the legendary Boca Juniors and Silver river. Those are two of the nine clubs that have signed up for the championships of the famous video game of battles and military strategy that the Professional Video Game League (LVP) has organized for this next 2021.

Jump to another world

For many, football only exists in the stadium or behind the television screen. However, greats like Barça, Manchester city, United, PSG, Bayern Munich OR Liverpool have been competing for years. If the commitment of those recognized clubs to eSports has already surprised, the expansion towards other video games not related to sports can do more, as Barça has done with the Hearthstone card game. How is this jump to other worlds understood?

“The key is that clubs can reach a audience very young, who is isolating himself from the world of football without involving a great expense and giving a new image to the club, “he explains Jordi Soler, executive director of the LVP. The tournaments of LOL They are the most popular in the world – also in Spain – and, therefore, the most attractive to attract new audiences. “If you want to be a relevant club, you have to play LoL,” adds Soler.

Also on the list of teams that will make the leap to LoL are San Lorenzo (Argentina), Deportivo Cali and Once Caldas (Colombia), Universidad Católica and Santiago Wanderers (Chile) and Cienciano Esports (Peru). The only Spanish club that has a line-up for this video game is the Real Betis Cream, which, as it did this summer, will once again participate in the Orange Super League, from where he was eliminated in the semifinals. The LVP is already working so that in 2021 new teams from the Spanish first division join its leagues.

Business opportunity

The universe of videogames and its exponential growth open the door to a great opportunity to deal that the clubs have not wanted to miss. “Here the audiences are higher than many football matches, so we will be in the most popular video games,” he explains. Diego Soro, executive director of Cream Betis. In addition to rejuvenating their audience, the teams seek to capture trademarks for sponsorships.

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The new branch of the Betic club seeks to consolidate in the medium term a billing annual of 4 million euros to later make the leap to the European elite, where the clubs bill up to 30 million a year. To achieve this, they have assembled a team of between 50 and 60 people who, in addition to the players, have a medical team, psychologists or nutritionists. This team adds to the commercial infrastructure that the club already has. “It is a mistake to want to directly monetize this business, it is an investment to expand the club and grow,” adds Soro.

The relationship between those clubs and major leagues like LVP is symbiotic. The former benefit from the phenomenon of video games to reach a larger audience, while the latter normalize and boost their competitions with the arrival of these teams. Thus, the first game that Cream Betis played in the LoL Super League shot the audience by 70% compared to the first match of the previous year. In Argentina, the global audience has shot up 370% in 2020 after the entry of River Plate on the digital playing field. The phenomenon has only just begun.


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