Chivas will bet on eSports this 2020
Chivas, one of Mexico's two most popular soccer teams, plans to be a long-term talent generator for eSports players, Dario Perez Real, the Red-White institution's general director, told Efe.
"Chivas only participates with Mexican players, following the tradition of the soccer team. We want to help Mexico as a place that generates talent for eSports," said Real.
"Now what we are doing is showing the way, opening the path and we know that both the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) and the MX League (First Division) are aware of the impact of eSports in the world.
"El Rebaño Sagrado," as the Guadalajara team is known, began in eSports in October 2018 with the announcement of its FIFA amateur tournament called the Chivas eCup.
It currently has three teams: Clash Royale - the fourth-most profitable mobile game through July 2019 - Fornite - the sixth-most popular video game last year - and FIFA, the most-watched title by eSports fans in Mexico, according to Newzoo.
Last December, Chivas reported its foray into the League of Legends (LOL), one of the two most-watched eSports in the world.
Chivas and its LOL team, whose members will be introduced in January, will compete in the Honor Division of the Professional Video Game League (LVP), the previous step to entering the region's top event, the Latin American LOL League (LLA), which will be based in Mexico in 2020.
Riot Games, developer of LOL, agrees with Perez, who is interested in Chivas having a team of its star video game, as he believes it will help them expand their market in Mexico.
"Riot is very happy since we announced that we were going to the Honor Division. They know what Chivas represents for Mexico and they see it as an opportunity to reach their more than 40 million fans," added the head of the eSports project for the Red-and-White.
Chivas decided to enter the eSports business with Amaury Vergara, the son of the late Jorge, since they see an opportunity to get closer to the new generations and to internationalize the brand.
"We want to have new fans of young people who consume eSports - mostly between the ages of 10 and 35. We want the tradition for Chivas to be maintained and Amaury understands this very well, he knows that it is a worldwide trend and that traditional sports brands are involved in eSports", explained Pérez.
According to Perez Real, people from Mexican soccer clubs such as Pachuca, America, and Cruz Azul have approached them in informal talks to ask them about entering eSports.
"We've talked to Pachuca and everything that is Grupo Pachuca - they also have Club León in the Mexican Primera Division - who have a couple of FIFA players. Cruz Azul has approached, with America has talked to try to understand the ecosystem, Puebla is very involved, but everything has been informal, nothing official, I hope that in 2020 there will be news," said Perez.
However, the case of Chivas in Mexico is unique, as its stadium, located in the Jalisco municipality of Zapopán, has a gaming room where players practice their disciplines.
The area is divided into three parts: one in which there are PCs for the Fornite elements and soon to be LOL, another with FIFA consoles and the Clash Royale, with seats for the "gamers".
"The gaming room was made in the stadium so that the fans of the soccer team, when there is a game, can see that the institution they support already has an eSports affiliate and start getting involved," said Perez.
In addition, in the case of Clash Royale, there is the "red and white quarry" to develop the new talent that will make up the first team in the future.
The eSports staff is made up of five people, three of whom are in Mexico City, from where the commercial part is managed, and another two in Chivas Stadium, who see the content and the day-to-day life of the players.
The players are accompanied by analysts, psychologists - who are the same as the women's team - and coaches, except in the case of FIFA, which has no coaches.
"Our players aren't necessarily football fans, they bring another idea, other tastes and one of the great jobs we've done is to get them soaked in what Chivas is all about," added Pérez.
"They are all treated as if they were professional footballers, they sign a contract and everything is done with the guidelines of what Chivas is, so that they know the magnitude of the institution they represent," concluded Perez.