Professional sports franchise that have turned to eSports

PSG eSports
PSG are one of a handful of pro sports franchises to embrace eSports. Photo from SportBusiness.

Professional sports have been captivating audiences for millennia, and the latest trend in town is eSports. Here are some of the biggest sporting franchises that have turned their hand to the world of eSports.

PSG (France)

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is one of the biggest stars in the sporting world, a football team that regularly reaches the heady heights of the Champions League and France’s most successful club team of recent years. However, it is not just the top French club, PSG has also been a pioneer when it comes to entering the realm of eSports.

It was back in 2016 that the franchise first launched a professional eSports wing, and it was the first major European club to do so. Beginning (naturally enough) with FIFA, this soccer team then added multiple strings to its eSports bow and built teams through partnerships with others (including in Asia) to field sides in Dota 2, League of Legends, Brawl Stars, and Rocket League, in addition to FIFA.

At the time of writing, the Paris Saint-Germain FIFA eSports team consists of AF5, Maniika, and Nkantee. AF5 has acted as the franchise’s official streamer since 2019, winning the right to his position by coming first in a 2018 World Cup of Youtubers competition. In June 2020, PSG returned to League of Legends in association with Hong Kong club Talon eSports. The franchise has also achieved significant success in Dota 2, in partnership with LGD gaming, including winning their first two Majors in a row and finishing first in the 2020 tournament phase of the China Dota 2 Professional League.

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Schalke 04 (Germany)

Fußballclub Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04 e. V., more conveniently known as Schalke 04, is a football club with a history dating back all the way to 1904. In the modern era, it has one of the largest memberships of any sports club in the world. During its lengthy existence, Schalke 04 has won its fair share of silverware, including seven German Championships and the UEFA Cup. But soccer isn’t the only sporting enterprise in which the franchise is involved.

FC Schalke 04 Esports was established in May 2016, and although their League of Legends side (they had purchased the EU LCS Summer 2016 seed and roster of Elements) initially had a reasonable record they ended up relegated and in 2017 had to start from scratch. Signing experienced players and talented rookie Upset the side achieved a record, becoming the first to ever be undefeated in a CS regular season when they competed in the 2017 Challenger Series, and later that year were promoted back to the EU LCS.


The pandemic did, however, have an impact. While eSports is largely immune, the effects on the real world on Schalke 04 (not helped by relegation from the Bundesliga), caused such financial woe that the League of Legends side is due to be sold in 2021.

Beşiktaş (Turkey)

Formally known as Beşiktaş Jimnastik Kulübü, but normally abbreviated to Beşiktaş, this soccer side is a titan of Turkish football. Famously never relegated to a lower division despite being founded way back in 1903, Beşiktaş has won 21 league titles and is the only side to ever win the Süper Lig without suffering a single defeat.

Beyond prolonged and substantial success on the soccer pitch, Beşiktaş has also expanded into other sports such as women’s football, basketball, handball, table tennis, rowing, and many more. One of the most recent additions to this very long list is eSports.

Beşiktaş Esports (initially known as Beşiktaş e-Sports Club) started its League of Legends presence in 2015 when it acquired the roster of Aces High Esports Club). High points for Beşiktaş Esports included winning the TCS 2018 Summer Playoffs, TCL 2015 Winter Playoffs, and finishing as runners-up in the TCS 2018 Winter Playoffs, TPL 2017 Summer Playoffs, and TCL 2015 Summer Playoffs.

Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)

Fudbalski klub Crvena Zvezda, known in English as Red Star Belgrade, is a Serbian football club which has the honour of being the most successful side in the entire Balkans. Highlights of Red Star Belgrade’s heritage include winning both the European Cup and Intercontinental Cup, alongside a huge 32 national championships and 25 national cups. Polling indicates almost half (48%) of the entire country supports the side and the fans can occasionally be a tiny bit over-enthusiastic.

Red Star Belgrade is the most famous part of the Red Star multi-sport club, which also covers sports from fencing and shooting to water polo and rowing. Red Star Belgrade has also made a foray into eSports with Crvena Zvezda Esports, its League of Legends side. Starting in 2017, the eSports wing has had a decent measure of success, such as winning the 2019 EBL Season 5 Playoffs. The side has also finished 2nd on six occasions, most recently the 2021 EBL Season 9 Playoffs.

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