Professional soccer is branching into the world of esports
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Over the last several years, esports has risen from a budding niche to a dominant force in the world of professional gaming. Some reports estimate that the industry brought in $650 million in revenue in 2017. That number is expected to continue growing and many notable people are starting to get in on the action.

Christian Fuchs building an esports team

According to the Daily Mail, current Leicester City left-back and former Premier League champion Christian Fuchs is about to become the first active Premier League player to own a gaming organization.

Fuchs is planning on creating his own team of professional FIFA players. The players will then represent him at various tournaments around the world. Fuchs confirmed the news when he retweeted the story published by the Daily Mail.

While Fuchs would be the first active Premier League player to have his own esports team, this isn’t the first time an athlete or pro sports team has shown interest in the world of online gaming. Entrepreneur and former NBA player Rick Fox is one of the 10 owners in the new franchised League of Legends scene. His team, Echo Fox, recently announced that they’d be forming a Fortnite squad as well. Former Premier League and Dutch footballer Ruud Gullit has also gotten involved. “Team Gullit” is developing its own professional FIFA roster.

Soccer teams with stakes in gaming

Manchester City and West Ham United of the EPL have both made strides by signing FIFA players. Manchester City also revealed that they would take part in the competitive Online Star League (FSL). The FSL is the Chinese esports market and the new season will begin later on in June. While City and West Ham are the only teams in the Premier League to have officially signed FIFA players, more clubs within the league have started to make major investments in the professional video gaming market. Stan Kroenke, Arsenal’s largest shareholder, owns a franchise named Los Angeles Gladiators, which competes in the Overwatch League. Swansea City co-owner Steve Kaplan holds a small share in Immortals, an organization known for DOTA2 and League of Legends. Lastly, two members of Crystal Palace’s ownership group, Harris and David Blitzer, own Team Dignitas, a veteran organization with a presence in practically every esports title.

On top of the interest from Premier League teams, top soccer clubs from around the world have also invested in the industry. Both Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Schalke 04 have made ties in the world of professional gaming. PSG founded their own club named Paris Saint-Germain Esports in 2016. The club has professional teams in games such as FIFA, DOTA2 and Rocket League. Schalke 04 also established their own esports club named Schalke 04 Esports. They feature in the European League of Legends Challenger Series.

The scene keeps growing

Professional gaming has become a massive industry. It was inevitable that professional sports teams and players would want to get a piece of the pie. Professional athletes such as Dele Ali, Harry Kane, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antoine Griezmann have all showcased their knowledge of video games by streaming themselves playing online. Even celebrities such as Drake are active online.

The professional gaming market has lured more than 200 professional sports teams already. Time will tell just how big it’s really going to get.