Man City sign eSports star – not something you see every day

Friday isn’t the most serious day in the world, so here’s something from the lighter side of the tech industry. Premier League leader, Manchester City, has signed its second FIFA eSports player, Marcus ‘ExpectSporting’ Jorgensen.

18-year old PS4 player Jorgensen will join Xbox player Kieran ‘Kez’ Brown in Man City’s stable of eSports stars, demonstrating the potential which is quickly developing in the eSports world. During 2017, Jorgensen became inaugural champion at the FIFA Interactive Club World Cup in Aug 2017, beating competitors from top European football clubs, and also reaching the FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final in London.

“We’re really excited to be signing Marcus to represent Manchester City in tournaments and fan events around the world. He has already demonstrated that he can compete amongst the best esports FIFA players around so we can’t wait to see how he progresses,” said Nuria Tarre, Chief Marketing Officer for City Football Group.

“The growth in eSports over the past 18 months has been significant and our increasing presence in this field has provided another exciting platform for us to engage with City fans, both here in the UK and further afield.”

The growth in eSports over the last couple of years has been staggering. Once considered a shelter for geeks and misfits, eSports is now penetrating the mass market, proving the most popular past time in certain markets in Asia. For those of you who are new to the area, here are a few of the numbers from the Intel Extreme Masters, a series of international eSports tournaments held in countries around the world:

  • $5,593,650 in prize money awarded so far
  • 113,000 attendees at the Katowice event in 2016
  • 1,300 crew members at the Katowice event
  • ESL One Hamburg powered by Intel, Europe’s largest Dota 2 festival, had 25 million unique online viewers

Considering the price of entering into the sports content market, perhaps this is an area telcos should seriously start thinking about. The popularity of eSports is growing incredibly quickly, and is starting to generate fan bases not too dissimilar from physical sports. The emotional connection is almost certainly there, but we doubt there will be many who will have the foresight to actually consider such a bet.

Telcos are hardly the most adventurous, usually waiting for a trend to prove it’s a genuine thing before investing. By this point, the telcos have to overspend to catch up with the early adopters, meaning a lot of the value is lost in overpriced assets. Maybe someone will prove us wrong, Telefonica is having a go at eSports in Spain, but the majority will probably stick to the same risk-adverse path which is taking the industry towards commoditization.

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