The Evolution of Esports Sponsorships: From AS Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain. Esports meets Sports Teams.
The Evolution of Esports Sponsorships: From AS Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain. Esports meets Sports Teams.

Sports Teams in Esports: Sponsorship Market Evolution

Discover how sports teams have seized their opportunities in the world of competitive gaming.


Karsten Schonauer
Creative Director
Insights / 3 Min.


In a world where the lines between reality and the virtual are blurring, one industry stands at the forefront of this digital revolution: esports.


The Rise of Traditional Sports Teams in the Esports Arena

In recent years, the intersection between traditional sports and esports has grown increasingly prominent. Traditional sports teams are diving into the esports arena, establishing their own esports departments or partnering with well-known esports teams. This trend reflects a strategic move to tap into the burgeoning popularity of esports, engage younger audiences, and bridge the gap between virtual and physical sports.


A year-by-year timeline of sports teams entering esports through partnerships with esports teams or by establishing their own esports department


Bridging Virtual and Real Sports

One of the primary motivations for traditional sports teams to invest in esports is the desire to reach a younger, tech-savvy audience. Esports attract millions of viewers, particularly from the Gen Z and Millennial demographics, who might not engage as actively with traditional sports. By entering the esports space, traditional sports teams can cultivate a new fan base, ensuring long-term relevance and brand loyalty. 

Esports provide a unique opportunity to tie the bonds between virtual sports and real sports. This integration can enhance fan experiences by offering new forms of engagement. For example, fans can participate in virtual matches or tournaments that reflect real-world competitions, deepening their connection to the team. Additionally, esports allow for innovative marketing strategies and the creation of unique content that can drive fan engagement across multiple platforms. The esports industry represents a lucrative market with significant economic potential. By investing in esports, traditional sports teams can diversify their revenue streams through sponsorship deals, merchandise sales, and digital content. The crossover appeal of esports and traditional sports can also attract a broader range of sponsors and advertisers, eager to capitalize on the diverse audience base.

It's important to note that not all sports teams have entered the esports arena by choice. For example, in Germany, the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) has made it mandatory for each first and second division Bundesliga club to have an esports team to participate in the Virtual Bundesliga (VBL). This initiative aims to promote the growth of esports within traditional sports structures and ensure a consistent level of competition across the league. By requiring participation, the VBL ensures that all clubs are part of the esports movement, further integrating esports into mainstream sports culture.


Examples of Sports Teams entering Esports:


Paris Saint-Germain (2016):

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is a prime example of a traditional sports team successfully integrating into the esports world. PSG Esports was established in 2016, and since then, the team has expanded into various gaming titles such as FIFA, Dota 2, and League of Legends. PSG's partnership with the Chinese esports organization LGD Gaming led to the creation of PSG.LGD, a Dota 2 team that has achieved significant success, including multiple high placements in The International, one of the most prestigious esports tournaments globally. This collaboration has bolstered PSG's brand recognition and allowed them to reach new audiences.

Video Credit:


FC Schalke 04 (2016):

Another noteworthy example is FC Schalke 04, a German football club that has made significant strides in esports. In 2016, Schalke 04 acquired a spot in the European League of Legends Championship Series (EU LCS), rebranded as the League of Legends European Championship (LEC). The club's involvement in esports has been marked by strategic decisions, including investing in infrastructure and talent development. This initiative has not only expanded Schalke 04's brand but also demonstrated a commitment to fostering a competitive esports team.

Sports Teams in Esports: FC Schalke 04 enters esports by purchasing a league of legends team

Image Credit: Schalke 04


Ajax Amsterdam (2016):

Ajax Amsterdam has also made a significant impact in esports, particularly through its involvement in FIFA esports. The club signed professional FIFA player Koen Weijland, a five-time Dutch champion and a prominent figure in the FIFA esports community. By bringing Weijland on board, Ajax has effectively engaged with the global FIFA esports scene, reaching a wider audience and enhancing its brand visibility within the esports community.

Sports Teams in Esports: Ajax Amsterdam signs FIFA esports player Koen Weijland (2016)

Image Credit: Ajax Amsterdam


The convergence of traditional sports and esports signifies a dynamic shift in the sports entertainment landscape. By investing in esports, traditional sports teams can engage new audiences, create innovative fan experiences, and unlock new economic opportunities. Successful partnerships, such as those established by PSG, FC Schalke 04, and Ajax Amsterdam, highlight the potential for long-term growth and collaboration between these two worlds. As the esports industry continues to evolve, the integration of traditional sports teams will likely become even more prevalent, driving further innovation and expanding the boundaries of sports entertainment.



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