Fans of soccer (or football, for non-Americans) will have a bridge into the war of the Ancients, as the Paris Saint-Germain have partnered directly with renowned Chinese team LGD Gaming to co-sponsor the main squad.
The organizations have jointly announced that the team roster will remain exactly as-is, with a brand name change to “PSG.LGD” and further strategic cooperation between the two organizations.
This particular squad has managed to hold their own in the Dota Pro Circuit, most recently taking second place in the Dota Asia Championship Major to cinch eighth in the DPC rankings, where they currently sit. They also took second at the PGL Open Bucharest and StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 4 earlier in the season. They’ll be playing next at EPICENTER XL starting April 27.
While other athletes and organizations have shown interest in esports as a whole, PSG appears to be the first soccer organization to directly invest in a tier-one Dota 2 team — and certainly, they’re the first to put their brand on such a squad. Other organizations such as Cyber Anji and Dynamo Brest have signed squads as well. The former disbanded in 2017, but Dynamo Brest’s squad, the Brestomans, performs in tier-two events and DPC qualifiers to this date.
PSG has already leaned into a few other esports as well, as they currently have squads in FIFA and Rocket League as well. They attempted a League of Legends team in October 2016, which entered the European Challenger series for 2016-2017 before disbanding.
This type of partnership isn’t unique in Dota 2, as Jeremy Lin of the New York Nets partnered with Chinese esports powerhouse Vici Gaming to become an “honorary captain” of several squads. “VGJ” has since expanded into two teams, with Storm in North America and Thunder in China. Both teams have found success in high-tier Dota 2 competitions.
For those who want to keep track, Paul “Redeye” Chaloner, esports commentator and figurehead of consulting studio Code Red, has listed direct sports investments in esports via a Google Sheets document. The current number of teams with direct investment or involvement is at least 228 at the time of writing. This includes involvement with “sports games” leagues, such as FIFA or NBA 2k League, as well as ownership of players in a variety of competitive video games.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: A correction was made as of 11:55 AM ET. PSG is not the first soccer team to get directly involved with Dota 2, but is the first to do so at a high caliber. The article has been changed to reflect this and include other information about soccer organizations.]