Munster Rugby or, Munster Rugby Gaming, to be exact, have announced their roster for the coming season as the famous rugby club takes its first step into the world of eSports.
eSports, or ‘electronic-sports’ if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is a lucrative market which businesses and brands are watching with a keen eye as the world of competitive online gaming continues to grow in popularity.
To put it into context, the 2018 League of Legends World Championship, received a viewership 100 million, two million more people than those who watched that year’s Superbowl.
Teams from across different sports around the world have developed partnerships with eSports. Premier League outfit West Ham, for example, signed Sean “Dragonn” Allen to represent them at FIFA (the popular football video game) tournaments.
In the US, the NBA arm of eSports held a draft where eSports teams selected from 102 professional eSport players to represent them in the popular NBA2K video game series.
Ultimately, eSports is big business and Munster Rugby are the first ‘traditional’ sports team in Ireland to enter the eSports market.
They’ve done this by partnering with Phelan Gaming, Ireland’s most successful eSports team. This partnership sees the team rebranded to ‘Munster Rugby Gaming’. Munster Rugby Gaming will compete in the Northern League of Legends Championships (NLC).
The esports arm of Munster Rugby will make its debut in the highly regarded NLC on June 17th and will also enter a development team in the United Kingdom League Championship (UKLC).
Munster’s roster for the coming season includes Nublar ‘Maxlore’ Sarafian, Aleksi ‘H1IVA’ Kaikkonen, Sebastian ‘Sebekx’ Smejkal, Jordan ‘Shikari’ Pointon and William ‘Unforgiven’ Nieminen.
Enda Lynch, Munster Rugby Head of Enterprise, said: “We are really looking forward to seeing Munster Rugby Gaming perform this season and we are delighted to partner with them for this exciting new venture.
“At Munster Rugby, we are constantly exploring ways in which we can innovate and bring our brand and high-performance knowhow to new opportunities, and we are proud to be part of Ireland’s first esports franchise team.
“We wish Josh, Jon, Ciarán and all of the squad the very best of luck in their upcoming games, and we look forward to celebrating their fortunes throughout the season. We have no doubt that the Munster Rugby supporters will get behind the team.”