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eSports at Etihad Stadium

01 Jun 2017

The AFL has expressed interest in joining the fast-expanding eSports industry and bringing tournaments to Etihad Stadium.

AFL spokesperson Patrick Keane told Docklands News the AFL was currently exploring the eSports market.

“We are currently gathering more information about this industry and we are attending some conferences to learn how eSports operates,” Mr Keane said.

Mr Keane said the discussion would take two to three months and eSports tournaments were “something that could happen”.

ESports, or electronic sports, involves professional competitions among players of video games. International eSports tournaments have been held in the US and Europe and some traditional sporting clubs have established an eSports branch.

In May, the Adelaide Crows became the first Australian sports club to buy a professional eSports team. The Crows bought Legacy eSports, one of the top eight teams in Australia that play the game League of Legends.

Darren Kwan, president of the Australian eSports Association, said the eSports industry was growing quickly in Australia and had become even more popular than traditional sports.

“Data shows that 1.5 million Australians identify themselves as playing some kind of eSports. Some 68 per cent of Australians play video games,” Mr Kwan said.

“ESports takes the content of traditional sports and adds more excitement and meaning to it. ESports supersedes traditional sports in a way because it provides greater stimulation in terms of cognitive engagement than traditional sports.”

Mr Kwan said the Australian eSports Association had spoken with some AFL clubs about the benefits of tapping into the profitable industry.

“The AFL is struggling to attract millennials. By introducing eSports, AFL clubs can build their membership. Whatever members they are losing on the footy side, they can gain on the gaming side,” he said.

“The AFL being interested in eSports is a big statement that eSports is huge and it’s definitely something the sports industry in Australia needs to catch up on.”

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