The first of our Esports Insider Forum Series (#ESIForum) events, in association with Digital Fuel, went off swimmingly last night.
Speaking to a full house at the Fnatic Bunkr in Shoreditch, the panel of VfL Wolfsburg FIFA pro David Bytheway, Fnatic CEO Wouter Sleijffers and Sky Sports and FIFA esports Gary Taphouse delivered an informative and valuable discussion on the matter of football clubs in esports.
The panel was moderated by Fortaura CEO Ibrahim Taylor, and Fortaura were there in force on the night putting together a video of the Forum. Prior to the panel SpecialEffect, the charity partner of the ESI Forum, delivered a short presentation on the exceptionally valuable work they do in the space. The SpecialEffect team were also there showcasing one of their products which allows for those with certain disabilities to play a modified version of FIFA. We’re delighted to be working to support what they do, and we’ll be welcoming them back for our next Forum on August 31st.
The expert panel followed this presentation, and during it Bytheway confidently asserted that “football is losing the younger audience, and that’s why Wolfsburg got into this”. Sleijffers pointed to Fnatic’s owner connection with AS Roma as an obvious reason for their partnership but he also stated that they’ve been approached by a number of major football clubs interested in entering the space but unsure on the hows and whys.
The panel were in agreement that FIFA is an easy first step for clubs due to the obvious crossover, but Taphouse in particular pointed to the likes of Schalke, PSG and Valencia who have (somewhat) successfully moved into other esports titles such as League of Legends and Rocket League.
Sleijffers noted that Fnatic don’t see themselves as an esports organisation as such but one that’s focused on digital sports, and the future of sports more generally. Following questions from the audience at the end of the panel, excessive amounts of pizza arrived to fuel the remainder of the evening and the all important FIFA tournament for which Tottenham Hotspur kindly donated a signed shirt as a prize.
To cries of ‘it’s rigged’ and jeers aplenty, Team Esports Insider emerged victorious in the tournament, seeing off a number of teams with the mighty Southampton FC. Professional commentary was provided live by the excellent duo of Matt Andrews and Gary Taphouse.
We’d like to thank our Event Partner Digital Fuel, SpecialEffect, Fnatic for having us, all our panelists, Tottenham Hotspur, Matt and Gary for commentating and everybody who made it down.
This is just the beginning, and we’ll be back at the Bunkr for more of the same, albeit with a different panel focus, on August 31st.