Their iconic red and blue kit adorned the cover of eFootball PES for many years, and they entered teams in tournaments on the platform. It gave the title, and developers Konami, further reach than they would otherwise hope to achieve. Now, Dexerto reports the club is reaching into the world of League of Legends.
It doesn’t seem like an obvious fit, but Barcelona is more than just a football club; they take their eSports seriously as well. League of Legends is one of the most popular eSports globally, with a reported $2.24m prize fund for the World Championship, according to a Bwin eSports infographic. It makes sense from a branding perspective for the club to choose LoL for their next eSports venture.
They have recently purchased the spot of S2V Sports in LoL’s Superliga for 2022 and reportedly beat fellow La Liga side Sevilla to the slot. It’s a huge move for the club and their biggest single step into eSports. As well as competing in Konami’s eFootball, they have also competed in Heartstone and Rockey League with varying success. Their current financial situation is precarious, but that hasn’t stopped their eSports expansion. Perhaps the club feels that their involvement with eSports can help reveal additional markets for them to explore. Expect to see plenty of Blaugrana shirts in front of screens next year.
The move does throw up an interesting rivalry that LoL won’t have seen the like of before. Gerard Pique is a Barcelona legend, having spent 13 years of his career at Camp Nou. He’s a global superstar, married to pop star Shakira with almost every major international honour to his name. Interestingly, he won’t be winning things with Barcelona in LoL, quite the opposite. He’s scheduled to go up against them after securing his spot in Superliga.
He has formed an as-yet-unnamed team with streamer Ibai Llanos, and have bought their own slot in the league, formerly occupied by Astralis. They’ve already begun recruiting for their venture, as AD carry Rafa ‘Rafitta’ Zapata and jungler Luis ‘Koldo’ Pérez have already agreed to sign for them, with more additions expected before the December 15 full announcement. What is known is that they’ll be led by head coach Jesús ‘Falco’ Pérez Rubio and assistant coach Tiago ‘Aziado’ Rodrigues. For Pique’s sake, we hope they have a better relationship than former FC Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman and club president Joan Laporte!
Whilst the cost of Barcelona’s deal has not been revealed, Pique and Llanos paid €300,000 (kn 2.2m) for their spot in September. Llanos is a renowned streamer who has always spoken of his desire to own a LoL team, whilst Pique’s wider appeal will help develop a reach outside of the usual LoL spectrum.
It certainly makes for an interesting Superliga next year and one that even non-LoL players and fans might find fascinating. If it draws more viewers and interest to the game, it can only be a good thing.