It looks like the Adelaide Crows aren’t alone in their quest to catch ’em all – this week the AFL Commission has confirmed this week that the Australian Football League will be making a push into eSports, with at least one more footy team “making inquiries” about picking up an eSports org of their own.
The Adelaide Crows acquired Legacy eSports back in May, and it’s now been revealed that Greater Western Sydney are also looking to purchase a team. Others are expected to follow suit, of course, but it’s what these organisations intend to do with their virtual athletes that is really interesting.
Speaking with Legacy team members at a recent Smite event in Adelaide, Player Attack learned that the Crows are already looking after their new online athletes, offering the same sort of assistance provided to footballers. This includes sports psychologists, because a team is a team, regardless of whether the sport being played is real-world or on a screen.
The GWS Giants also understand this, as they seek to add an eSports team to the AFL, AFLW and netball teams under the orange banner. Each new addition to the group further expands the team’s reach, introducing GWS to new, bigger fanbases. ESports is a particularly tasty proposition, with international audiences of more than 230 million, primarily in the lucrative 14-34 age bracket. It’s believed the team is already in “preliminary talks” with a number of eSports orgs – including one based in western Sydney.
It’s an approach already taken by many sporting teams internationally: Paris Saint-Germain, FC Schalke 04 and the Philadelphia 76ers all own eSports organisations, helping themselves to a piece of the $1.2 billion industry.
And it doesn’t stop there. The AFL has also announced it would like to run its own eSports competition, building off the back of its AFL and AFLW competitions – but it is taking a softly, softly approach. The world of Australian eSports is a new one, but it already has certain systems in place, and the AFL is researching the best way to proceed rather than simply barging in. That said, the end goal is in sight: A major eSports tournament hosted at Etihad Stadium, playing to more than 50,000 rowdy video game fans, many of whom could not care less about football or other traditional sports.