Rise of the Machines, the Electronic Sports Universe

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We footie lovers harbour strong affection for the beautiful game and living in the age of the Internet, we can benefit from all sorts of treats, from streaming matches on our smartphones, to catching up the games after a day at work.

And while we’ve been revelling in the many opportunities presented to us by chance, technology, and the popularity of the game, a new version of it has come about.

Esports or electronic sports have taken hold. Initially seen as non-athletic and a waste of time, esports have gathered substantial following, even among the best footballers who love to spend time gaming.

Sure, there will be those who would find sitting around, watching a game from a screen rather stupid. But then again – nobody seems to raise the same argument against football. After all, we’re just sitting around and watching – a game.

Drop the divisive rhetoric though and even we in Ireland will readily admit that we love to play video games, from first-person shooters to digital sports. One particular title stands out of course, and we mean of course EA’s timeless FIFA (19) franchise. A true football championship brought to the digital ether.

Football and Esports – More Alike Than You Think

Believe it or not, football clubs are now avidly interested in tying up cosy partnerships with various electronic sports outfits. From Paris Saint-Germain to the entire Spanish LaLiga, the world is becoming a friendlier place for esports and football in particular.

EA, the developer of the digital FIFA franchise, has created an intriguing eWorld Cup version of the real competition, and it’s pretty cool to see a lot of Irish blood featured. But EA are hardly done. Look to neighbouring England, and EA have signed the entire English Premier League (EPL), developing an E-League format for the fans to enjoy.
Esports are increasingly akin to real sports, not only in the level of skill necessary to execute proper plays, but also when it comes down to the managerial side of things. Private sponsors are investing in football and bookmaker alliances are formed.

Do you think it’s any different in esports? It’s not. GG.bet, a popular bookmaker specialising in esports exclusively, has already signed partnerships with esports teams, such as Na’Vi, Team.Secret and North.

Meanwhile, mainstream bookmakers, such as Betway, have signed with both football teams and esports outfits for West Ham. And now, it’s official. Every team in the EPL will hire video gamers to represent them. Those will be salaried gamers, meaning they will make a proper living.

Spreading the Buzz

Ireland is definitely a silent underdog when it comes to esports. We’ve fielded our own athletes here and there, and we’ve had some successful players across multiple games, including FIFA 18 where Conran Tobin managed to earn $31,000 in the 2017/2018 season.

But overall success has been elusive. Even Denmark has signed its main football body to partner with the EPL. But things may finally be looking up at home, with the Irish College Esports organisation finally starting to rev up interest in the segment.

Next year, Ireland will entering in a decisive stage of its development as an esports destination. It’ll quite possibly put itself on the map, with tournaments slowly starting to ramp up, and with that, will come even greater interest.

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