The influx of sports teams to the esports space has been accelerating in recent months, and on the weekend just past there was a significant watershed moment as PSG.LGD became the first esports/sports conglomerate to win a major title. Facing off in the EPICENTER final against Team Liquid, the all-Chinese lineup broke a number of barriers on their way to the title, and took home half a million dollars for their troubles.
The alliance between east and west was only formed a month or so ago, officially at least, with reports surfacing around the 19th of April that the French club would join forces with LGD. The win at EPICENTER makes them the first Chinese team to win a major title outside of Asia too, so all in all it’s been a pretty decent weekend for the owner of both groups, even if one will probably have cared a bit more.
This is great news ahead of The International too, which Chinese sides normally enjoy a huge amount, both for PSG.LGD and the wider scene. We are still a few months out from that competition, and there may or may not be a patch a couple of weeks before it begins that throws the whole competitive meta into disarray, but as good signs go, this is about as good as it gets for PSG.
New way to ally with sports teams
The reaction on social media was largely positive too, especially in comparison with some of the more obscure esports scenes that have shown hostility to outside investment, and the boost to PSG’s image in China will be immediate and noticeable to the club with a huge DotA 2 fanbase in that part of the world. Hopefully it will encourage other investors to follow the PSG model as well, rather than the way most teams entering the space have behaved.
Compared with other sport/esports alliances, it seems as though PSG are far happier to put their trust in the experts they hire. While a lot of clubs have invested, PSG’s model seems to be more respectful of their position in the space, and lack of experience, where other teams have been far more keen to impose their own professional values and norms onto the enigmatic area that is esports.
Long a legendary name in French football, Paris Saint Germain were actually a fairly small club in European terms for years, despite having some famous names don their kit. The arrival of a sea of oil money, while controversial, has taken the club to new heights in recent years, with only some very suspect refereeing preventing them from taking a watershed victory over Barcelona in last year’s Champions League.
Their project began with some big signings, but it was the deal for Neymar that cost over €200 that really turned heads. Since then they have shown domestic dominance, and are making their way up the ladder in terms of Europe too, through clever recruitment mainly, as well as the massive piles of cash. This move into esports seems to have gone equally smoothly so far, and hopefully will encourage other sports giants to follow their example.
Image credit: EPICENTER Twitter