Swiss football fans recently made their voices heard during a game between Young Boys and FC Basel. Amid fans holding up giant banners depicting pause buttons, the referee was forced to halt the game for two minutes after a slew of tennis balls and game controllers were hurled onto the pitch in protest of the encroaching influence of esports on Professional clubs.
European clubs are no stranger to esports, with the likes of FC Schalke, Manchester City, and AS Roma among a pack of high profile football clubs sporting their own esports divisions, yet the rise of esports in the Swiss national leagues has been viewed by some fans as having nothing to do with the spirit of the sport, and is simply “all about profit“.
Young Boys ultras threw tennis balls and PS4 controllers on the pitch during game against Basel to protest eSports pic.twitter.com/N402uKyjLt
— Hipcat (@ScottSlocombe) September 24, 2018
It is no surprise, given the size and growth of esports over the last decade, that more and more businesses are looking to get in on a piece of the pie. For an example of just how large these prize pools can reach, ‘The International 2018′ for Dota 2 boasted a prize pool of $25.5 million across the 18 teams qualified, with League of Legends’ 2017 World Championship reaching $4.9 million. And these numbers aren’t only relevant to the MOBA genre of the aforementioned titles, as games ranging from first-person-shooter to digital card game, to traditional sports are all developing more and more of a following, and subsequently more and more of a prize pool.
Newzoo, the global leader in esports, games, and mobile intelligence recently released their 2018 Global Esports Market Report, and has shown that the esports economy is expected to grow a further 38% over the coming year, putting it at a staggering $905.6 million.
Motives aside, there is no denying that esports are here to stay and that there is an opportunity within it for brands to grow and benefit from both a financial standpoint and from exposure to new audiences. Although pouring funds and attention on unwanted Esports teams can result in immediate disgust, as seen during this particular football match, the long-term benefits promise a lot in this digital age. Building a bridge between traditional sports and esports provides access to and from both camps, and should be encouraged where possible, especially where one club encompasses both.
Let us know in the comments below if you have any thoughts on this particular incident, or on the growing relationship between traditional sports and Esports as a whole.