The streak of European football clubs jumping into esports seems to be showing no signs of slowing down with Russian outfit FC Anji announcing the creation of their own DOTA 2 division complete with the signing of their first player.
To kick off their new team, the club have signed the Ukrainian ex-Na’Vi player Alexander “XBOCT” Dashkevich. XBOCT has been without a team since August of 2016 when his former employers, Team Spirit, temporarily disbanded only to pick up a new roster in December of the same year. This new signing seems to be XBOCT’s opportunity to get back into the scene after more than a half year hiatus. XBOCT left his mark in DOTA 2 after taking the first international title in 2011 alongside his teammates in Na’Vi.
XBOCT’s first tournament will be at the CIS open qualifiers for the upcoming Kiev Major where he will play as a stand-in for a mix team dubbed “Team BMF”. Anji FC have stated that the remaining four players will be “announced soon”. Being the first player to join a football club as popular in its country as Anji is sure to boost XBOCT’s popularity and perhaps get him back to the level of performance he was once known for.
In the official announcement, FC Anji explain their decision of opting for Dota 2 instead of FIFA, something which other football clubs have done.
The following is a rough Russian to English translation from the team’s statement: “Esports are growing exponentially. A very large audience of football fans have not yet covered[sic], and cyber football development is not the best in Russia. We wanted to go a little further, we decided to create a team in Dota 2. This is a very popular game in Europe and the CIS.”
Esports Insider says: It remains hard to determine whether the football club to esports trend is just a temporary fad or something that will continue to occur until all clubs have esports teams. The fact that esports are global means the transition, if done right, makes a lot of sense for clubs from a commercial and fan engagement perspective.