Japanese entertainment company Akatsuki Inc. has launched The League of Professional Esports (LPE) which will only feature teams attached to traditional sports clubs across the world.
While the announcement states participating clubs can be from any sport, the only ones currently involved are football clubs: Ajax, Galatasaray, Tokyo Verdy, Santos F.C, Real Sociedad, Villarreal SD Huesca, SD Eibar, and Real Betis. Clubs will be encouraged to interact with their local communities with youth programs and fan bases surrounding their traditional sports club and esports teams.
Xavier Cortés, Chief Executive Officer of the League of Professional Esports said: “The physical world limits us to compete, whether due to limitations of age, gender or simply physical capacity. With the arrival of esports we want to break that barrier and turn it into a flag that represents us all. We intend to bring light and transparency to a sector that moves millions of young people all over the world, and who see in this new way of competition an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and talent.
“That is why our league also aims to be a point of convergence between both worlds, reaching different generations and uniting both followers of conventional sports and esports.”
It’s unclear exactly what games will be played in the LPE or what the format will be but seeing as it’s aimed in Europe with football clubs involved, FIFA is a solid bet. The inaugural season will begin in 2019 and reportedly hold a maximum prize pool of $500,000 (£388,768).
The concept of attaching esports teams directly to traditional sports clubs has been growing more and more as of late with franchises like the NBA 2K League attaching teams to NBA teams, the 76ers buying Team Dignitas, and multiple traditional sports investments into the LCS.
Esports Insider says: While it’s nice to see sports clubs get directly involved in esports is it actually necessary for esports to grow? As esports gets more and more publicity with traditional media it seems as if traditional sports needs esports to stay relevant, not vice versa. Even though football may be the largest sport in the world we hope to see the LPE confirm sports clubs from across other sports too, and are intrigued to see how this plays out in general. More’s to the point, the first question on everyone’s lips when a new league is announced is; which games will it be? We’ve no answer here yet.