David Beckham has launched an eSports team which aims to bridge the gap between sports and their video game counterparts.
The former footballer is co-owner of Guild Esports, a global esports business headquartered in London.
Guild’s inaugural team will make its debut in autumn in popular titles including Rocket League, FIFA and Fortnite.
It says it is developing a talent pipeline in the UK based on the traditional academy model, which will see the most able players coached and nurtured by industry leaders in order to attain the skillset required to compete professionally.
Beckham has developed several sports businesses, most recently through his co-ownership of Inter Miami CF in the MLS.
“Throughout my career I’ve been lucky enough to work with players at the top of their game, and I’ve seen first-hand the passion and dedication it takes to play at that level,” he said.
“I know that determination lives in our eSports athletes today and at Guild we have a vision to set a new standard, supporting these players into the future.
“We are committed to nurturing and encouraging youth talent through our academy systems and I am looking forward to helping our Guild Esports team grow.”
The global eSports market, which has enjoyed tremendous support in Asia and is now fast establishing itself as a mainstream entertainment globally, is currently valued at $1.1bn and is projected to grow by 42% to $1.56bn by 2023.
The number of eSports fans is estimated to be around 495m and is largely comprised of millennials.
Guild has established a management team of eSports veterans with experience as professional players, coaches and in the eSports media. Guild Executive Chairman Carleton Curtis is an industry heavyweight and architect of the Overwatch League and Call Of Duty Leagues.
Prior to joining Guild he held senior eSports roles at Activision Blizzard and Red Bull.
“The meteoric rise of eSports shows no signs of slowing down and this is the perfect moment for Guild Esports to enter this exciting market,” he said.
“We have built an experienced management team and I am proud to have David Beckham as co-owner in this venture as his professionalism and deep experience of developing high–functioning sports teams aligns with our core strategy of building the best in class eSports teams.
“At Guild Esports, David will be instrumental in helping shape the coaching programme implemented at our academies and we welcome his valuable mentoring as well as the inspiration he gives the younger generation of athletes.
“Esports is already one of the most popular spectator sports on Earth and will continue to grow globally as excitement, accessibility and knowledge of the sector soars. Guild looks forward to playing a big role in the future of this growing community.”