South African football club the Orlando Pirates has announced a FIFA team as its first venture into esports.
“For the first year, Orlando Pirates will focus its esports energies on Electronic Arts franchise FIFA and will later look to moving into the more popular esports segments such as Counter-Strike, League of Legends and/or Dota.” said the press release. It’s rare for a football club to consider an officially sponsored attempt at League of Legends or Counter-Strike, with PSG recently leaving League of Legends citing a lack of financial sense.
However, many will no doubt welcome the introduction of a multiple team esports organisation in South Africa, a country that doesn't have much of an international esports presence.
The team will consist of ten contracted players and the Orlando Pirates will be offering support for training and events, in addition to providing logistical knowledge and support to the players. The team has some caliber, too. It’ll be captained by Abubakar Akhalwaya, a three time FIFA Interactive World Cup contender and one of the most successful FIFA players in South Africa.
In a blog post on the Orlando Pirates website, Akhalwaya said: “This is a journey that has taken about three years with the Club. I am very happy to be part of this new venture and look forward to being part of the Orlando Pirates esports family.”
“The eSports industry is exploding and there is a huge talent pool in South Africa with untapped potential,” said Tokoloho Moeketsi, the club’s brand activation manager. “We have noticed that the level of professionalism in esports has continued to grow over the past years and as Orlando Pirates we feel that now is the right time to enter this industry.”