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Esports are growing in popularity and revolves around the use of video games to create single and multiplayer competitions.
The biggest-selling games on the leading consoles invite players from all over the globe to turn from a casual gamer into a professional competitor who is signed by a real-world club.
In Australia, the ‘E-League’ is in its second season and features every team from the Hyundai A-League playing FIFA 19 on Playstation and Xbox.
They sign one player from each console who then pair up to represent the A-League in virtual form. FIFA’s main game mode ‘Ultimate Team’ sees each competitor make a squad of their choice which must have at least three current players from the club they are representing.
Played in a similar manner to real life counterparts, matches run over nine rounds but in two-legged ties given a typical match of FIFA 19 lasts 12 minutes. That is followed by a finals series to determine the overall winner. The E-League also serves as part of the qualification process for the FIFA eWorld Cup.
The best part about the E-League is that it’s open to anyone who does excel in FIFA games through practice and skills. The Weekend League, which has a rank based on wins out of 30 games, puts potential E-League players on the map with leaderboards for their own country and overall amongst all players.
The E-League is gaining publicity through the media coverage provided by Fox Sports and streaming service Twitch. With the E-League only a couple seasons in, expect more people to push for selection as a professional gamer.
La Liga has become the first major league to sign a major non-fungible token (NFT) partnership, in what has created a significant new revenue stream for the competition.
The Spanish competition has struck a deal with Sorare, a fantasy football platform, and in turn will launch NFT’s for all of the league’s players.
Sorare is a marketplace to trade digital cards from more than 180 football clubs, with over 500,000 users signed up on the platform.
Through this partnership La Liga fans, collectors and fantasy football players will be able to freely trade and play with digital cards of players from the league.
Sorare has strong ambitions for the future after securing their agreement with La Liga, with the company planning to partner with all of the world’s top 20 football leagues by the end of next year.
The deal with La Liga covers both the first and second divisions in Spain and highlights the global interest in the ever-growing NFT card space, which has garnered close to $130 million in card sales this year.
Javier Tebas, President of La Liga, explained further about their partnership with Sorare to the La Liga Newsletter: “At La Liga we are always looking for innovative ways to offer our fans new and exciting experiences and to broaden the appeal of our competition, the greatest in the world. This partnership with Sorare, the most exciting sports NFT projects today, enables us to reach new audiences globally and gives existing fans additional ways they can get involved with the players and the clubs they love.”
Nicolas Julia, CEO and co-founder of Sorare told the La Liga Newsletter: “NFTs are the future of gIobaI sports fandom because they allow fans to come together and to feel ownership of the sports they love. This partnership isn’t just a sign of Sorare’s growing leadership in the NFT sports space, it is a major signal of intent by the sporting world that it sees Sorare’s unique ability to connect fans with sports through NFTs as a crucial part of their plans for the future.”
“La Liga is one of the best leagues in the world, home to some of the most exciting clubs and footballers on earth. We are very proud that they have become our first ever league partnership, and we are looking forward to working together in the years ahead,” Julia added.
Sorare cards are NFTs, which means each of those cards are unique, scarce and its ownership able to be publicly verifiable via the blockchain. The company’s combination of NFT technology with sports cards and a fantasy game is the leading next-gen offering within the world game. Through the collecting, owning and trading of these rare digital collectibles, Sorare has created an experience where users can own their game, build connections in the real world and control their assets in a secure, safe place.
The next generation gaming experience will help La Liga and its teams expand their international brands, reaching fans and new types of audiences, including crypto-enthusiasts across the US and Asia.
This partnership means Sorare now has the majority of the top 100 football clubs in the world under license, including powerhouses such as Liverpool FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC and Juventus FC.
Despite these individual clubs signing up, the other 4 major leagues have not entered a NFT partnership.
With a new digital football hub set to be implemented by the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) in the coming months, gaming competitions such as fantasy football, are most likely set to return for fans of the A-Leagues.
A partnership with a platform such as Sorare, will be extremely beneficial for the local professional game.
Utilising NFT trading cards for A-League football players across fantasy football will be unique and fit in with their ongoing plans for digital innovation across the domestic competitions.
Alongside this, it is a revenue stream for the APL which looks to connect the younger generation to the game and reap similar rewards to what has previously been implemented across the E-League.
With popular football clubs among their extensive client list, Infront X presents as the perfect partner for anyone in the sports industry looking to improve their fan experience.
Infront X is a digital media company focused on the link between data science and technology and how this can create more personal experiences for users – growing audiences for content owners, bridging the gap between storytelling and technology and creating digital platforms and experiences to help global brands engage with audiences and monetise their investments.
Infront X works with many of the biggest names in sports, media, entertainment, and gaming, tailoring to meet their interests using data-driven insights to cater to audience passions and empower businesses to make millions of lasting impressions.
Infront X has established themselves across the world with offices across North America, Europe, and Asia, where they have had a massive impact in helping elite organisations like the PGA TOUR, Verizon, NASCAR, FOX, Chelsea FC, AS Roma, the International Ski Federation, and the International Basketball Federation, as well as many others.
Forming part of Infront X’s expertise is the way they have delivered fan experience for sporting organisations. One of their leading projects has been with 2020-21 UEFA Champions League winners, Chelsea FC.
Launched in 2018,The 5th Stand App connects a global fanbase to their club and community.
During a long-term partnership, Infront X has worked closely with Chelsea’s digital team to create and implement a data-driven digital product strategy, which brings the very best features together on The 5th Stand. The app is designed to let Chelsea’s global fanbase interact with each other and support the club, even when they cannot be in one of the four stands at Stamford Bridge, particularly key to capturing an international audience.
The collaboration between Infront X and Chelsea both parties to develop and deliver an innovative digital strategy that focuses on deep fan engagement for a truly interactive interface. Since From the time The 5th Stand was released, it has been downloaded over 6.7 million times, making it the fastest growing football app in the world. A recent survey by Chelsea saw 92% of all fans recognise the importance of having The 5th Stand app.
Moving across to Italy, Infront X and AS Roma FC form another partnership that is in amongst a multi-year deal. Regarded as one of the most successful clubs in Serie A, Infront X saw another perfect opportunity to help a club that has an incredibly passionate global fanbase.
Ordinally, AS Roma were able to relaunch their flagship website in 2018 thanks to Corebine, powered by Omnigon, in conjunction with Infront X. The introduction of the digital media company to AS Roma’s business strategy and planning identified the needs and requirements for the club, through insights gleaned that saw new monetisation opportunities and holistic recommendations to take the digital experience to the next level.
Infront X were then able to develop and launch mobile apps to cater for the global community, alongside a revamped and responsive website that comes with a host of different languages. A verstaile platform gives AS Roma fans everything they need with in-match and player statistics, as well as enhanced video capabilities.
Sporting leagues themselves can even get in on the action, as evidenced with the features that Infront X helped the Scottish Professional League (SPFL) with.
The SPFL were seeking new ways to keep their fans engaged in a time where the league was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
When league games were cancelled, Infront X found a way to fill a content gap by using a voting system to reach fans and create those interactions. Each week, they had the chance to vote for which archived match would be streamed each week.
Eventually when matches resumed, a poll allowed fans to vote on ‘Team of the Season’ content and a variety of other campaigns ensured that fan engagement would always remain at a high.
To see everything that Infront X has to offer across a range of industries, you can find it here.