Everyone will be fully aware of the rise in popularity of esports over the past ten years. It has been unavoidable. Now, the younger generation are starting to solely become fans of particular esports teams, instead of some of the more traditional sports teams played by actual people.

Now what we are seeing is a crossover of the real and the online digital world. Actual sports teams, such as the soccer side Manchester City in England, have begun to employ gamers for their own dedicated esports teams, competing against other real-life sides, but in the gaming world. This is a smart move, as it means existing fans can now get excited and involved with the esports arm of the franchise, while it is almost certainly going to attract new fans to the clubs through the gaming world. There are countless people out there who will follow a particular gamer. If that gamer then gets signed up to an official esports team of a side like Manchester City, then the fans of those gamers will then surely become fans of the actual sports team as well.

One of the most interesting cases of this sort of crossovers has happened in the NFL, where the Indianapolis Colts, have teamed up with Esports Entertainment Group, with a multi-year agreement to serve as the official esports tournament platform provider to the Colts.

Who are the Indianapolis Colts?

The Colts franchise began in Baltimore in 1953, before they made the move north to Indianapolis in 1984. Owned by Jim Irsay, and under head coach Frank Reich, the Colts are based at the Lucas Oil Stadium. In their history, they have claimed two Super Bowl championships, in 1970 and 2006.

They are part of the AFC South Division, and last year they had an impressive 11-5 record, which was enough to see them through to the playoffs in one of the wild card slots. They were drawn against the Buffalo Bills in the first round but were unfortunate not to progress any further, as they were defeated at the Bills stadium 27-24. Reich and General Manager Chris Ballar are hopeful that this upcoming season will be slightly more positive, and are looking to push on further towards the later stages of the playoffs, to possibly reach another Super Bowl final. Check out some of the best betting sites to find the latest odds on the Colts.

And, who are the Esports Entertainment Group?

Unsurprisingly, the Esports Entertainment Group haven’t been around for quite as long as the Colts. They were founded as recently as 2008, and since their inception 13 years ago, Esports Entertainment has become one of the leading names in the esports and online gambling community, under their CEO and president Grant Johnson. Their website offers online tournaments for games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warefare, Fornite and Fifa 21. These are arguably three of the most in-demand games that the younger generation are playing right now, so Esports Entertainment is really capitalising on this popularity by hosting these events through their website.

In addition, there are sections on the website where people can place bets on esports, as well as regular sports. By having such broad horizons, Esports Entertainment is able to increase its market reach and popularity, making them one of the big names in both industries.

As well as the Indianapolis Colts, Esports Entertainment also have gone into partnership with the Los Angeles Chargers, as well as a number of NHL and NBA sides, showing that it is not just Football that they are interested in.

What does the partnership mean?

Obviously, this is a great move for both parties. For the Colts, they now have a direct partner in the ever-growing esports world, which will undoubtedly bring them thousands of new fans in the coming years, and likely push up sales of merchandise too. A quote from Grant Johnson reads “Esports provides a relatively new avenue for teams to strengthen connections with their fans, and the Colts recognize how our robust tournament platform can help them achieve their fan engagement goals.”

For the Esports Entertainment Group, being involved with such a well known and well-loved sports franchise is absolutely huge for them, giving them access to even more fans. Another quote from Johson at the time of the partnership being announced was “We continue to build on our momentum in the professional sports community and are excited to add the Colts as our latest top tier partner.”

It’s obvious that the very nature of how we consume and interact with sports is changing incredibly fast in front of our eyes. A progression that would have taken decades before now seems to happen within weeks. Partnerships like these, between established and historic sports franchises and esports companies, are the future, so expect to see your favourite team establishing similar relationships with gaming platforms any day now.