This week the ‘eSports IQ by Alex Fletcher‘ features the following content: FC Schalke 04’s eSports play; Finding a home for eSports.

Update (16.05.2016)FC Schalke 04 Confirms eSports Commitment

FC Schalke 04’s eSports play

News that FC Schalke 04 purchased a spot in the EU League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) has generated a good bit of buzz across the eSports community. The intrigue is justified, as this move could mark an inflection point for the integration of sports and eSports. While neither specific details are known nor did Schalke confirm the guesswork, let’s examine the potential pros and cons:


Credibility bonus

German Bundesliga is a leading soccer association boasting the highest average stadium attendance worldwide, across the major professional sports leagues. An investment in eSports, by one of its most popular teams, is an obvious boon for mainstream perception of competitive video games. The club’s involvement should also bring badly needed management techniques to bear in eSports, assuming the LCS team is treated as a separate sport department. For those outside the gaming world, this move by a well-respected brand like FC Schalke 04 makes electronic sports feel more like a true sport. Coupled with activity by other EU pro sports clubs, this represents a potentially powerful shift in the overall perception of eSports.

Sponsor integration

Current and prospective FC Schalke 04 sponsors can now dip their toes into the eSports world with the guidance of a trusted partner. Schalke’s expanded inventory now includes activation in the world’s top eSport; a tempting opportunity for the growing litany of non-endemic brands eyeing competitive gaming. This also opens the door to a new generation of integrated campaigns which bridge the sports/eSports divide.

Advocate for better governance

Riot Games, proprietor League of Legends (LoL) and reigning 800-lb gorilla in the world of eSports, is the sole source of governance for the LCS. As a result, team owners currently lack meaningful influence over league wide matters. Entrance of FC Schalke 04, a club acclimated to organized competitive associations, could very well change that. An organization of Schalke’s magnitude has the means to compel Riot to straighten out irregularities in arbitrary judgments, perhaps by advocating for a real sense of league-wide, collective bargaining and better transparency for decision making processes.


Little brother syndrome

The move by FC Schalke 04 could lead to more professional sports clubs subsuming eSports properties and, by relation, co-opting of the competitive video game experience. The stories, brands and history of the medium are still being formed; unchecked exposure to the gravitational pull of big-time pro sports could ruin its unique complexion and character. None of this would occur with malicious intent, but it’s clear that the innate, advantages of sports brands could steer eSports towards the category of narrow offshoot, as opposed to independent ecosystem.

Talent discrepancies

Traditional sports franchises are unmatched in terms of experience with scouting, management and development of playing talent. While video games are a different domain, it’s only a matter of time before major gaps in the ability to find and keep top players begin to emerge. Should Schalke decide to pour resources into its eSports division, it will be a challenge for even larger endemic teams like Fnatic to keep up. This could spur a player salary bubble, which can only be maintained by more inflation, and will prove negative for the long-term health of the competitive scene.

Finding a home for eSports

News that Team EnVyUs is looking to close a potentially multi-million dollar deal to move to Charlotte, North Carolina is a glimpse at the future of eSports. Until now, competitive gaming organizations haven’t typically set root in specific physical places. Unlike counterparts in physical sports whose location is intricately tied to a home stadium, electronic sports don’t require a strict city/state of origin. In the past, this reality has been a benefit, at best, and non-issue, at worst. However, given the recent rise in eSports’ profile, locality is more possible than ever before. The EnVyUs deal speaks to the potential of these eSports locations.

The vision exhibited by the city of Charlotte, venture capital fund SierraMaya360 and team owner, Mike “hastr0” Rufail, is reflective of a new generation of tech media. As digital platforms, like Facebook and Netflix, have molded the content consumption habits of younger generations, traditional media has been racing to keep pace. When it comes to entertainment, anything and everything digital, mobile or online is a definite must for 30-and-under demographics. Electronic sports are wired perfectly to those tastes. Investment into constructing placation for a successful eSports franchise creates a physical destination to which members of online gaming communities are enticed to voyage. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to bring a digital property to life in the offline world, undoubtedly a rare feat, but one that can be realized through eSports.

As cities seek to attract younger, upwardly mobile adults who’ve spent formative years digitally immersed, expect the presence of gaming centers, such as Team EnVyUs’ planned home location, to emerge as highly attractive markers. Cities with major professional sports teams, who are already evaluating the eSports opportunity, will have no issue mustering the collective will to move forward in this direction. Especially since, it will help generate a new crop of activations involving competitive gaming franchises and regional enterprises. Overall, this announcement is early signal of gathering momentum, which could bring eSports to more cities, sooner than later.

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About ‘eSports IQ’

The ‘eSports IQ’ is compiled by Alex Fletcher, the founder and president of Entiva Group, LLC, and features insights on the latest emerging trends in eSports. By curating invaluable content from a wide range of information sources you get the leading edge in the business of eSports.

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Image source:, Photographer: Helena Kristiannson