The Video James Corner: Growing pains

Essendon Football Club has recently announced its departure from the esports scene as it shuts down its “Bombers” League of Legends team. Frankly, most people aren’t really bothered by this, and shockingly, neither am I. I was over the moon after hearing Essendon first announced its venture into esports back in 2017 alongside the Crows. After seeing how long these teams have stayed in the industry, I’m happy with the Bombers efforts to be that mainstream representation for esports. These AFL teams’ commitment is a step towards cementing esports in the mainstream and shows the potential gaming had as a market worth investing in.


Unfortunately, not everything works out as planned. Essendon officially parted ways with its esports team earlier this month to focus more on the club’s future vision. The club released an official statement explaining their decision:

“As a club we will continue to challenge the status quo and evaluate emerging trends and innovations that we believe can deliver potential growth in non-traditional areas with the underlying objective to best support our core business – football.”


This news hits hard, but it’s also a great learning experience. Losing a mainstream representative is tough but the Bombers have played their part in growing the esports audience. When covering this news, The Esports Insider noted that esports is a “niche sector with its own upsides and pitfalls” and this is really food for thought. I think it’s wonderful that huge companies are giving esports a chance, but it saddens me when a part of the process sees these companies pull out of the industry at the drop of a hat. Our gaming scene is severely underdeveloped, so it’s no surprise to hear about mainstream companies leaving esports to focus on their own businesses, but this constant “at arm’s length” approach can be demoralising.



The global esports industry is very familiar with finding and losing mainstream partnerships, but support for Australia’s own trade has been at a constant low. Mainstream companies in other countries have given esports the chance to shine, but Australia seems to lack the same sentiment. Esports is a scary business to step into, so it makes sense that certain businesses would be hesitant when investing time, money and attention to something to abstract, but this hasn’t stopped other companies. While traditional sports companies have the least trouble assimilating, other businesses are profiting from their digital leap of faith.


If you need a bit more convincing that esports is even worth investing in, Esports Insider published an article detailing the investments made in esports during 2018. Here are a few highlights:


PayPal became partners with Rainbow Six Esports.


Facebook was given exclusive streaming rights to the ESL Pro League.


Blizzard confirmed a broadcast deal with Disney, broadcasting the Overwatch League playoffs on Disney XD, ESPN and ABC.


Esports is a valuable market, but there will always be pockets of the field that discourage mainstream investment. We always see news about the huge prize pools and players travelling the world, but our grassroots scene is a long way away from having the same opportunities as the global stage.



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