See the Bombers level up: Essendon enters eSports world

Stirling Coates Roar Guru

By Stirling Coates, Stirling Coates is a Roar Guru

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    The Essendon Football Club will be the second AFL team, after Adelaide, to have an official eSports venture, after the club announced they had acquired Australian League of Legends franchise Abyss earlier this week.

    Chief Marketing Officer of the ‘Dons, Justin Rodski, said the club was “looking at ways to diversify [its] business, invest in growth and create new opportunities to drive incremental consumer and commercial revenues.

    “We will bring our expertise in elite and professional sport to strengthen the team across all areas, including a particular focus on player welfare and development.

    “Our investment in eSports will not impact our core business of winning games of football. The team and players will align to our values as a Club and our vision of being the most respected, inclusive and successful Club in Australian sport.”

    Abyss, formerly known as Abyss Red, already utilise the Bombers’ colour scheme, however the club will be relocated to Melbourne and undergo a rebranding – almost certainly to adopt the rest of the Essendon identity.

    Daniel Ringland, the head of eSports at Riot Games Oceania, said; “It is great to have another AFL Club come on board to support an OPL (Oceanic Pro League) team. Next year is looking to be our most competitive year yet and it is going to be amazing to see [Adelaide] and Essendon go head to head in the OPL, just like they do on the footy field.”

    League of Legends, a multiplayer battle online arena game (MOBA), has long been one of the most established competitive video games, while League-related content is consistently the most heavily-watched on YouTube and Twitch.

    The 2017 League of Legends World Championships, watched by over 60 million people, were won by Samsung Galaxy, earning a prize pool of over $5 million (US).

    Abyss have competed in the Oceanic Pro League since 2016, although success has thus far eluded the fledgling eSports team. The club finished 7th and 6th (out of eight sides) in the two 2017 tournaments, and lost all nine encounters against Adelaide-owned Legacy eSports. They did, however, manage to steal some maps from eventual Season 2 champions Dire Wolves.

    The club’s roster currently consists of Australians Julian “Raid” Skordos, Carlo “Looch” La Civita and Jackson “Pabu” Pavone, alongside Italy’s Sebastian “Seb” de Ceglie. Abyss lost Leon “Frae” Lee to Avant Garde in December, while Andrew “Rosey” Rose departed a month earlier.

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