Targeting Asia, French champions Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (PSG) has unveiled its eSports team with an aim to capture the vast markets in the continent and attract fans there as it seeks to compete with the English Premier League and La Liga sides in fan following.

Claiming to be the first elite club in the world to have embarked into the digital domain, the reigning Ligue 1 champions announced their first three signings for their eSports team to take part in the ‘League of Legends’ European Challenger Series next year as well as the popular FIFA franchise.

eSports is a form of competition that is facilitated by electronic systems, particularly video games. The input of players and teams, as well as the output of the eSports system, are mediated by human-computer interfaces.

In association with ‘Webedia’, an online media company based in France, PSG presented August “Agge” Rosenmeier and Lucas “DaXe” Cuillerier at Parc des Princes stadium last night. Rosenmeier, 20, is Denmark’s current FIFA 17 world champion and Cuillerier, 16, is a rising French star.

PSG is currently among the top seven in the world in terms of revenue earning and it has reached quarterfinals in the last four years of the UEFA Champions League, but it has now set sites to grow even bigger by entering into the digital domain aimed at attracting fans in Asia. They are looking to steal a march on their opponents by becoming the dominant club in the industry by announcing its eSports team and the signings of the players.

PSG’s League of Legends (LoL) team will be based in Berlin, where the official LoL league is held and the group is expected to ultimately include a coach, seven players and two analysts. “We need to always think out of the box and see what is going to happen. The main objective of developing eSports for us is how to strengthen the brand and be the first soccer club to be in this video games competition. It is a different way (from having an actual football team) and brand building project,” said PSG Head of Merchandising Fabien Allegre.

“We know where we come from. We know that it has been difficult to let people in Asia, like in India and China, know the existence of Ligue 1 due to a lot of things. EPL is much more powerful in India than we are. The number (of fans) that you have in Asia is important,” he said.

“PSG is trying a different route. So, eSports is a way for us to show the people in Asia that we exist more and more. It is reaching out to another kind of audience, talking to young people, the soccer fans. It (eSports) is a real diversification exercise for us,” he added.
Asked about any other professional club in Europe which have such eSports team, Allegre said, “I don’t know if any elite European club like Real Madrid, Barcelona or big clubs in England have ventured into eSports. Schalke 04 (of Germany) and EPL side West Ham United have but I am not sure they have the same kind of association with a company and backing like we are having.

“It (Webedia) is a huge company and they have the expertise in how to manage the young eSports players. It is not the project of PSG only. It is the coming together of two companies and it is a kind of joint venture. It is a long-term agreement. We plan to be in the eSport area for a long term.

“Some NBA teams are also doing now. It (eSports) is just coming up now and everybody is focussing on eSports.”

Explaining further about having an eSports team, he said, “It (eSports) has the same kind of organization like any other sport. It will have coaches, sports director, and players. There will be sponsors, though not the TV rights for now. You will have revenue coming from the broadcasting on the web. You have the merchandising part and then you have ticketing. In big competitions, young people come and pay for tickets to be the audience.

Asked about any revenue target, Allegre said, “It is too early to say any revenue target. Since we are in the project we have to invest a lot also and at the end of the day, we hope to get the returns. The total worldwide audience of eSports is nearly 300 million. The total market for video games is nearly USD 92 billion and eSports is only 1 or 2 percent in that. So we can grow. “We will be playing in the challenger series (second division of League of Legends) next year and another for FIFA. Later, we may be having another team playing for another game. So, we will be having a global brand, that is PSG eSports. We can bring some kids from India and China and train them to be eSports players in future, who knows,” he said.

South Korea has the best-established eSports organizations, officially licensing pro video gamers. Official recognition of eSports competitions outside South Korea has come somewhat slower. Along with South Korea, most competitions take place in Europe, North America, and China.

Source: Business Standard