Pro Hockey Slides Into eSports

PRO HOCKEY SLIDES INTO ESPORTS

EA Sports NHL 94 aka The Best Hockey Game Ever Made™ (Photo: Racketboy)

EA Sports NHL 94 aka The Best Hockey Game Ever Made™ (Photo: Racketboy)

TNL Take: We've seen a majority of European soccer clubs invest in eSports, the NBA taking the lead in the US and the MLS finally making its first move.

Now Pro Hockey is starting to slowly enter eSports - I so badly wanted to use "skate" but that's just awful. Ok, slide isn't that much better.

Either directly or through a consortium of sports investment, here's the history so far:

 

SEPTEMBER 2016: NEW JERSEY DEVILS

New Jersey Devils (Photo: New Jersey Devils)

New Jersey Devils (Photo: New Jersey Devils)

Washington Capitals (Photo: Wallpaper Cave)

Washington Capitals (Photo: Wallpaper Cave)

aXiomatic, became a new eSports joint venture between a massive amount of sports investors and athletes including Peter Guber (Warriors, Dodgers, LAFC)  and Ted Leonsis (Wizards, Capitals, Mystics, Valor, Verizon Center ) who bought a controlling stake in Team Liquid.

 

NOVEMBER 2016: IFK HELSINKI

Finland's Helsinki Reds eSports Team (Photo: IFK)

Finland's Helsinki Reds eSports Team (Photo: IFK)

Finland was the first country to make a direct investment when Helsinki based Hockey club IFK Helsinki launched an Overwatch team under the name Helsinki REDS.

I spoke with IFK's Sales Manager Jussi Patjas about why they got involved.

 

FEBRUARY 2017: BOSTON BRUINS

Boston Bruins (Photo: Wallpaper Cave)

Boston Bruins (Photo: Wallpaper Cave)

Delaware North, parent company of Boston's TD Garden and home of the Boston Bruins - which is also owned by Delaware North chairman Jeremy Jacobs - announced a strategic investment with eSports team Splyce.

I spoke with Splyce Co-Founder Marty Strenczewilk on the investment and what it means for both Delaware North and the team going forward.

 

JUNE 2017: TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo: Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo: Tampa Bay Lightning

The latest hockey investment is Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik who becomes an investor and co-chair of eSports super group aXiomatic.

Like other aXiomatic investors, Vinik is also involved in multiple sports properties including a minority owner of Fenway Sports Group (Boston Red Sox, LFC) and owns Arena Football team Tampa Bay Storm.

 

WHY HOCKEY?

 

Just like the NBA has driven US Sports league investment in eSports, if a team doesn't have a standalone arena, they usually play in an NBA Arena (Ex: New York Knicks and New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden).

Why do Pro Sports teams invest in eSports?

 

This.

Exclusive: Pro Hockey Checks Into eSports

Exclusive: Pro Hockey Checks Into eSports

Finland's Helsinki Reds eSports Team (Photo: IFK)

TNL Take: Soccer ✔️ Basketball ✔️ Football ✔️ Baseball ✔️

Now we can add Hockey to the list of Pro Sports that have invested in eSports.

Helsinki based Hockey club IFK Helsinki is launching an Overwatch team under the name Helsinki REDS.

As opposed to many eSports teams that are comprised of various nationalities, the entire Helsinki REDS team are from Finland.

Helsinki REDS already have a 2 Brand sponsors Jimm’s, Finland’s top custom computer manufacturer, and the Battery energy drink.

Here's an Exclusive interview with IFK's Sales Manager Jussi Patjas about their eSports investment.

TNL: Jussi, thank you so much for making the time to speak with me and congrats on your move into eSports.  We’ve seen European soccer teams make major eSports investments and the NBA in the US. Why Hockey?

JP: As a professional hockey organization at the highest national level we have the resources and knowledge in building a team and also a wide range knowledge business operations around it.

TNL: How and why did you get into eSports?

JP: Helsinki REDS goal is to have a happy, committed team and become one of the leading and most popular brand in eSports. Supporting our team players and providing a caring environment to enable them to reach their maximum level.

Sounds familiar comparing to hockey? As a Pro sports organization our job is create an environment for people who love to play our sport. We want to support them by coaching and providing enthusiasm. We also want be able to find game loving, will powered talents and give them all what it takes to maximize their players skills. Then build a Pro team with good a spirit and able to find success.

TNL: You are also the first hockey organization outside of every major sport that has entered the space - did you see that as an advantage or is it because of Finland's most popular sport?

JP: Hockey in Finland is truly like national sport and IFK has always wanted to be first, not only as champion but also in development in new areas and concepts. We have all the knowledge and resources it takes to be on highest level in sports and business. With good partners and people around us we are able learn the culture of eSports

TNL: Helsinki is the home of Supercell which sold for a tiny valuation of $10B. Did the gaming culture in Finland affect your decision?

JP: Of course. Those successful stories, like Supercell in the Finnish gaming scene are also a great fuel to our new journey with Helsinki REDS. There is lot we can learn from them and their working culture

Thanks again for your time and best of luck with Helsinki REDS in Overwatch going forward.