eSports has gained some serious credibility from the real sports world, as the Daily Dot reports Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins are investing in NRG eSports, a company which owns competitive League of Legends and Counter-Strike: GO teams.
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) March 17, 2016
The only previous notable eSports investor from the traditional sports world was former Lakers forward Rick Fox, who owns a League of Legends team and has been a public proponent of eSports himself. Andy Miller, the chairman of NRG, said the latest investment will help further legitimize eSports with the traditional sports world.
“We think they will help legitimize the space,” NRG’s chairman, Andy Miller, tells the Daily Dot. “They all come from the traditional sports world. They were all unbelievably young when they became professionals, like our guys.”
It’s an excellent point. People turned off by eSports could change their mind when they see All-Star traditional athletes take interest. As the Daily Dot notes, Rollins himself is a League of Legends player and Shaq has connected to eSports through his relationship with Turner Sports, who announced a new Counter Strike: Go competition, ELEAGUE, last year.
Miller said O’Neal will bring great energy to the teams and sound excited to have him.
“[Shaq] has been circling the space, and during CES he kind of fell in love with it, and he said “I’m all in, let’s do it,’” says Miller. “He’s the world’s biggest kid and he’ll bring an epic amount of fun and energy—no pun intended—to our teams, and to the space in general.”
Traditional sports fans may scoff at the idea of eSports being a legitimate entertainment product, but we are past that point now, as it’s already huge. eSports is coming and there’s nothing you can do to stop it – even athletes realize this – so you might as well jump on the bandwagon.