In a first for Australia, the Adelaide Crows, a professional soccer club, has acquired OPL’s Legacy eSports team.
Legacy eSports is one of the top eight professional League of Legends teams competing in the Oceanic Pro League (OPL). The OPL opens doors to the League of Legends World Championship, which attracted more viewers than the NBA finals last year.
The move follows a growing trend of overseas sporting teams and leagues making investments in the eSports over the last 18 months. The $1.2 billion eSports industry has grown to nearly 250 million followers, with most between the ages of 14 and 34.
The Australian Football League has also hinted at its potential to engage in the global eSports industry and may consider hosting tournaments at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium.
Andrew Fagan, Chief Executive of the Adelaide Crows, said involving itself in the growing eSports industry would allow it to reach a wider audience and broaden its brand.
“It is hugely popular with millennials and there are enhanced opportunities for current and new corporate partners to engage with younger, digital and social media savvy audiences,” said Fagan. “In many ways, eSports represents the intersection of technology, media and entertainment, which are all a key part of our strategic focus.”
Fagan added that billionaire investors, sporting clubs and athletes are all getting involved in eSports.
“League of Legends eSports was the most obvious choice for our Club to get involved in, as it is one of the most developed eSports leagues in the region,” said Fagan.
The Club also plans to devote resources to help grow the Legacy brand and better engage with passionate fans. But Fagan noted that the Adelaide Crows will always be focused on its “core objectives of winning football matches.”
Daniel Ringland, Head of eSports at Riot Games, said the acquisition marked an important milestone for eSports fans in the OPL.
Reportedly, the deal was in the six-figure range.
Along with League of Legends, Legacy also fields rosters in Rocket League, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and SMITE.
The Intel Extreme Masters, which was held at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena, demonstrated the ESL’s potential in Australia. The tournament has a reported 7,000 attendees per day and almost 8 million viewers on stream.