Sports clubs getting into esports was one of the big storylines in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the trend continues this year as well. Today, Finnish soccer club SJK Seinäjoki threw its hat in the ring. Like most European clubs lately, SJK announced the signing of a FIFA player.
The club is also eyeing Overwatch, according to the press release. Additionally, SJK sees its stadium as a place that’s fit to host esports events. A hint towards a potential application for Blizzard’s upcoming Overwatch league? Unlikely.
Founded only ten years ago, SJK is far from being among Europe’s top teams. Its stadium is just shy of 6,000 seats, and the club’s international success negligible. Unlike in most other European countries, soccer isn’t Finland’s most popular spectator sport and falls behind ice-hockey, which is the most popular in the country.
In fact, the ice hockey club IFK Helsinki was Finland’s first mover when it comes to esports. The country’s oldest club created an Overwatch team, the Helsinki Reds, in November last year. If anything, the Reds are the ones with a chance to participate in the franchised Overwatch league.
Nonetheless, SJK is another sports club joining the ranks of the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Galatasaray Istanbul, Schalke 04 and, just recently, F.C. Copenhagen. It won’t be the last. About 50 clubs are engaged in esports one way or the other to date, this could easily double in 2017. How that’s going to change the esports landscape, for better or worse, remains to be seen.