Questions a club has to ask before setting up an esports team

Questions a club has to ask before setting up an esports team
18, August 2018 Trevor Keane
Questions a sports club should ask before entering esports

From Manchester City, Besiktas, FC Brondby, Bayern Munchen, Paris Saint-Germain, West Ham in football to the Miami Heat, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics, the New England Patriots in the NBA and NFL, Sports clubs around the world are jumping on the esports bandwagon.

It is easy to understand why. The industry is enjoying an exciting boom at the moment. The audience is young. They are into tech and understand it more than any generation before them. As a result sponsors are becoming very active in this space.

The imminent launch of a Premier eLeague will see even more Premier League teams get involved, however before your team gets involved in a whole new space, they should have some basic questions.

Do we have a strategy and domain expertise in-house to do this?

For me the word esports, a word I use a lot every day is akin to saying Olympics. People don’t play Olympics, they play the sports underneath that umbrella, e.g the 100m. The same applies to esports. The titles are the sports, so for 100M read League of Legends, Overwatch, CSGO, Fortnite, FIFA and much more.

Each publisher has multiple titles. For example EA don’t just make the FIFA 19 game they also produce Madden. Each title has multiple layers from grassroots competitions to challenger leagues to elite level. Each level has different prize structures and in some instances Franchise or entrance fees. The simplest approach is to find the title that you think will resonate closely with your traditional audience. However by working with someone, or building an in-house team, you can quickly work out where the best approach to take. Having a strategy and the knowledge to execute it is crucial to your venture into esports.

There are a lot of ways to enter at the various levels. You can start at the grass roots level and scout for talent. Or you can acquire an established team and build your approach around them. The key is having the right strategy and understanding.

Are we doing this to convert the gaming community to turnstile paying attendees?

If the answer is yes, then you need to reconsider this. Having a dedicated esports team within your organisation will not lead to increased ticket sales.

This is about having an auxiliary arm to the business. This is about engaging with a young and tech savvy community. If you are a diehard fan of Barcelona basketball, does that automatically make you a fan of the Barcelona Handball team?

Multi-team sporting franchises are about leveraging off a brand name and engaging with a specific community, and this is where esports needs to fit in. It needs its own budget, its own strategy and its own targets.

Are we in this for the long haul?

Esports is not a bubble. The growth over the last few years has been significant. Plenty others have written about it but for ease of reference, according to Newzoo the global Esports Economy will grow to $905.6 million this year, a year-on-year growth of 38%. The global esports audience will reach 380 million this year. It is made up of 165 million Esports Enthusiasts and 215 million Occasional Viewers.

We all know a gamer, and most kids & adults have a PS4 or Xbox in their home. The industry won’t continue upwards forever and will eventually plateau off. In some ways, I like to compare it in a way to the rise of Xtreme Sports in the early 2000s. There was a lot of excitement as the sport went mainstream and its popularity surged before it found its place in the sports market.

However due to the market size, esports, when it does plateau will rival the largest of traditional sports, so with that in mind, any club looking to enter the esports space needs to do so with a good strategy, an open mind and a long term view. The strategy and long term view are easy enough concepts to understand but what about the long term view? If I was writing this 15 months ago, very few reading this would have heard of Fortnite.

But here we are now drooling over a game that is essentially free, has made over $1 billion in upselling in-game opportunities and has over 120 million users. As in all aspects of business, the key to being successful is to adapt and understand.

And these are just for starters. Want to know more, get in contact with our head of esports, Trev – Trev@Sportego.ie

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