The esports arena has seen an influx of interest from traditional sports stars, with Lionel Messi being the latest to join through his association with Kun Agüero’s team. This move could herald a shift in mainstream attention and sponsorship dynamics.
However, Messi’s entry is part of a growing trend among athletes investing in esports entities. Here, we explore the forerunners who paved the way in blending athletic prowess with digital competition.
Gerard Piqué: A Dual Field Strategist
Gerard Piqué is notably active in the esports domain, not just with KOI but also by initiating an eFootball clubs competition, although FIFA’s dominance overshadowed its impact. Piqué’s ventures show his keen sense of digital strategy parallel to his football tactics.
Fernando Alonso: From Asphalt to Digital Tracks
Fernando Alonso, the motor racing icon, transitioned his competitive edge into esports through G2 Esports, especially during the rise of sim racing. Despite the project’s dissolution pre-pandemic, Alonso’s current engagements reflect his ongoing commitment to virtual racing.
Welcome to the future.
Welcome to FA RACING-G2 esports team. #LogitechG #esports #team pic.twitter.com/Gg7dPZ5XSK
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) November 23, 2017
Stephen Curry: Scoring Beyond the Court
In 2018, Stephen Curry joined the funding round for Swift, the parent company of Team SoloMid (TSM). His investment underlines the potential of esports to attract talent from diverse sporting backgrounds.
Thanks for representing us! @StephenCurry30 #TSM #GameAwards2019 pic.twitter.com/9fiGBggyQS
— TSM (@TSM) December 13, 2019
The Spanish Trio: Morata, Abrines, and Parejo
Alvaro Morata, Alex Abrines, and Dani Parejo co-founded Ramboot, which now collaborates with Valencia FC’s esports division. Their gradual approach signifies a strategic investment in the burgeoning digital arena.
— Ramboot Club (@RambootClub) November 19, 2019
David de Gea: Guarding the Esports Realm
David de Gea, an avid esports enthusiast, is a vital part of the Rebels project, contributing beyond financial investment. With his involvement in content creator acquisitions and daily operations, De Gea exemplifies how athletes can extend their influence into esports.
Together again 😎@RebelsGaming ♦️ pic.twitter.com/EZq3rabqYI
— David de Gea (@D_DeGea) October 22, 2023
Rebels’ Expanding All-Star Roster
Rebels have expanded their influence with investments from Bruno Fernandes and Mata. Their sections in League of Legends and two Valorant teams, especially the prominent female squad, showcase the club’s competitive ambition.
Other notable athletes who’ve invested in esports include Reguilón with Team Heretics, Borja Iglesias and Courtois in Dux, César Azpilicueta’s Falcons, Laporte’s AYM Esports, Rubén García’s Guasones, Kevin Durant in Echo Fox, André Iguodala, and Mike Tyson. Moreover, David Beckham’s association with Guild exemplifies the appeal of esports ambassadorship.
Redefining the esports industry
The foresight of these athletes in recognizing the potential of esports reflects a broader trend of converging athletic and digital realms. Their investments symbolize a belief in the sustainability and growth of esports, which continues to attract mainstream attention and redefine the sports entertainment industry.