Geelong and Collingwood are the latest AFL clubs to consider forays into the world of eSports, while there are plans afoot to equip Etihad Stadium with an "eSports high performance facility".
Collingwood's new CEO Mark Anderson recently requested and heard a presentation on eSports by a representative from Australian team Avant Gaming. That presentation was made by members of Bastion Live, the new owners of Avant Gaming who are considered one of Australia's top three teams.
Meanwhile at Geelong, CEO Brian Cook recently told reporters he had instructed his staff to explore eSports.
"[I] have got my data staff to present a recommendation to us on that," Cook said.
"That will be with us in the next couple of weeks, whether we go down that path."
ESports involves professional video game players competing in teams, or individually, for lucrative prize money. Competitions take place online and in stadiums and are watched by millions around the world.
The global eSports industry is estimated to be worth $1.2 billion. It attracts an annual audience of 239 million people mostly from the 14-to-34-year-old age group.
The Adelaide Crows became owners of team Legacy eSports in May and Essendon bought Abyss earlier this month. GWS have also expressed interest in the past.
Sporting teams around the world - including the Philadelphia 76ers and Paris Saint-Germain - have similar arrangements with teams in the US and Europe while the Miami Heat, Melbourne City FC, Manchester City and the New York Yankees have arrangements with individual eSports players.
Bastion Live - the owners of Avant Gaming - are a branch of Bastion Collective, a diverse communications firm whose board members include former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou. Former Western Bulldogs player Simon Garlick is CEO of Bastion's sponsorship arm while Hamish McLachlan, brother of AFL CEO Gillon, is a key shareholder in the business.
But there's another influential AFL figure who has recently become involved in the industry. Fairfax Media understands Gerard Murphy, the founding director of leadership consultancy firm Leading Teams (now Gerard Murphy consulting), recently purchased Australian eSports team Regicide.
Regicide will play in the same League of Legends league, the Oceanic Pro, as Legacy, Abyss and Avant in 2018. They have been renamed ORDER.
It is understood Murphy has splashed nearly half a million dollars on taking over Regicide - significantly more than Adelaide, Essendon and Bastion's investments.
He has also poached several of the top stars from rival teams.
Adelaide's investment in Legacy continues with plans to turn the club's old offices in Westlakes, next to their current administration facility, into an eSports hub of sorts.
It's possible the vacant building will be equipped with training facilities, dormitories and even a meeting room in the club's old boardroom. The Crows have already recently upgraded Legacy's western-Sydney team accommodation.
This plan is similar to the one the AFL and some eSports teams have for Etihad Stadium.
The league would like to build a "high performance" facility at the AFL-owned stadium, which would include a place where players could train and compete.
But because games need to be played between teams on a LAN network - with all competitors in the same building - it is likely most eSports competitions would continue to take place in Sydney.
Essendon and Avant Gaming have shown interest in using and helping develop this facility. Essendon's team Abyss are currently based in Sydney.
Meanwhile on Friday Football Federation Australia announced it will run an e-League in 2018.
"The FFA's e-League will be the premier competition for the region's elite FIFA competitors to represent the Hyundai A-League's elite top tier clubs to determine a new e-League champion for both Xbox and PlayStation," an FFA statement read.
"In partnership with the Hyundai A-League clubs, the e-League will begin on 1 February 2018 and run for the last nine rounds of the Hyundai A-League. This provides for each club to play each other once and will end in April with a tournament-style final event."
Each club will have two e-League competitors.
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