Two of the biggest names, or possibly purses, in esports linked up today, with the news that the esports arm of Paris Saint Germain would be joining forces with Chinese giants LGD to create a joint Dota2 team. Since coming into the esports space, PSG have been relatively cautious and not committed to multiple games straight away, but this move could signal the start of a larger commitment from the French club.
The players representing the joint venture will, of course, be Asian, as success is a prerequisite and the number of French Dota2 gods is not high. Wearing the same kit as Neymar (sort of) will be Wang 'Ame' Chunyu, Lu 'Maybe' Yao, Yang 'Chalice' Shenyi, Xu 'Fy' Linsen and Malaysian Jian Wei 'xNova' Yap.
The statement speaks of the two groups mixing their ‘experiences and expertise’, although it remains to be seen what expertise the PSG group can bring, aside from the expert control of massive piles of oil cash.
“We are very happy to work with LGD, a major structure in China. This partnership fits perfectly with our development strategy and I look forward to build new exciting projects with them,” said Yassine Jaada, PSG eSports’s CGO, who was pretty bullish about their ambition, stating simply that “…our goal is to go to The International and to get the best performance."
Unsurprisingly, the enthusiasm was shared in the press release by LGD GM Xuan Li. He was keen to emphasise the lure of working with a large sports team, as PSG are these days, and typically effusive in his praise for the French half of the partnership. “We are looking forward to partnering with such a legendary club as Paris Saint-Germain esports. We are very honored that PSG recognises our brand, our successes and our experience. We look forward to going even further with PSG to make our fans proud."
According to Fabien Allègre, who has the rather elaborate title of ‘director of merchandising and diversification of the Paris Saint-Germain brand’, this partnership marks a major turning point, both for his employer and esports in Europe.
“We are very happy to once again be a pioneer by being the first major European football club to invest on Dota 2. With an average of over 500,000 players simultaneously connected, Dota 2 is one of the most popular eSports games, especially in Asia, a strategic region for PSG."
This, along with the line that "Paris Saint-Germain relies on its esports section to open the way to the Asian continent but also Eastern Europe or North America where DOTA is very well established", is probably the truest indicator of not only the motives for the move specifically, but also the reason so many football teams are trying to get into the space.
As Redeye told Luckbox recently, the lack of younger viewers at football matches is already an issue, and big European brands have being trying to get into the Asian market for a while now, with esports presenting a new angle.
The five PSG eSports players will play their first matches for the team in Moscow at Epicenter XL, starting on April 27th, which is one of the nine “million-dollar Majors” of the as well as a chance to get qualifying points for The International.
So far, we’ve not seen a sports team succeed in esports under their own brand, but this project could have the potential to change that, marking a new era for the European scene. Or it might just be a marketing stunt, we’ll have to wait and see.
Images courtesy of PSG