Cardiff Blues are excited to take their first steps into the world of Esports with the formation of a new team.
Esports is now one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with an estimated audience of more than 450million and a global value of $1.5billion. It will also be showcased as a demonstration sport at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Cardiff Blues Esports will initially compete on Call of Duty and host their first Esports event next month with supporters and grassroots teams invited to participate.
Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland said: “The Esports industry is a rapidly growing and expanding market, which is only going to get bigger.
“During 2020, consumer interest for sports games enjoyed a 1054% increase and more time is now spent watching gaming videos and streams than watching many of the main streaming platforms combined.
“We are always looking for new ways to engage with our existing supporters and ways in which we can bring our renowned brand into new markets.
“At the moment, we are just dipping our toe into the industry but we really excited to take our first steps with the ultimate ambition of having a paid roster of professional players.”
The team has been set up in collaboration with EDN Esports, a new organisation comprising of industry experts and students based in South Wales.
EDN Esports’ Stephen Hunt said: "As a passionate advocate of Esports and a college lecturer in relation to the industry, I'm grateful to Cardiff Blues for giving my students the opportunity to support this first event, future initiatives and league games with this exciting first for South Wales within the UK Esports scene"
HyperX are also supporting the exciting initiative which will begin with existing Cardiff Blues rugby players, who have a passion for Esports, populating the team.
A HyperX spokesperson said: “HyperX have been supporting grassroots Esports for over a decade, and are proud to be working alongside Cardiff Blues for the event.
“It’s exciting to see the students supporting the event put their learning into use in real world settings, and we wish them the best of luck in running the tournament.”
James Botham, who made Wales debut against Georgia last weekend, is one of several avid Call of Duty players at the Arms Park who will form the Cardiff Blues Esports team.
He added: “Esports is an absolutely massive market now with 100s of millions playing across the world and similar numbers viewing streaming events.
“The scale of the industry is mind blowing but even at a small level it gives us a great way to engage with our supporters and new markets.
“A lot of the boys play games like Call of Duty in their down time, it’s a great way to switch off and relax, but at the same time we could be playing and interacting with fans or competing with other sports teams who have an Esports arm.
“It’s a massive opportunity for businesses and brands like Cardiff Blues and myself and the boys are really excited to get involved.”
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