Wealthy people like buying sports teams, but now they're creating them. Well, esports teams, at least. Soccer star David Beckham has announced he's going to be involved in funding and launching an esports league called Guild Esports. The news comes as esports continues to grow rapidly and traditional sporting events remain on hold around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Athletes in Guild Esports will compete in titles including Rocket League, FIFA, and Fortnite, when it begins competing in the fall, scaling up over the 2020 / 2021 season as more players are brought on board. The Guild says it plans to build a team using the traditional academy model, which will see the best players coached by industry leaders, with a roster of scouts continually searching for new talent.
Guild Esports will be based in London, England, and is being led by Carleton Curtis, who's previously overseen esports initiatives for Activision Blizzard — where he started leagues for Overwatch and Call of Duty — and Redbull. Fergus Purcell, of skatewear label Palace fame, has been tasked with designing the Guild's branding and apparel.
Esports is cool now — Once dismissed as not really constituting "sports," the esports industry has grown into a billion-dollar industry and is projected to grow by 42 percent to $1.56 billion by 2023. Beckham's by no means the first sports star to jump on the esports bandwagon, and he's unlikely to be the last. Aside from the sector's growing appeal, there are lucrative opportunities for accompanying merch sales that make it very appealing. Having a name like Beckham's attached to the team gives Guild Esports a massive advantage right out of the gates.
Even broadcaster ESPN has been dipping its toes in the water, using the dearth of traditional sports events to broadcast esports leagues across its TV and online platforms.
Beckham has done an excellent job of harnessing his fame for other lines of business since retiring from professional soccer. He co-owns the professional soccer club Inter Miami CF, so this isn't wholly untrodden ground for him. Though, this time, the pitch is virtual and covered in cars, rather than real and covered in people.