At Least Eight Top German Soccer Teams Are Seriously Interested In Esports

Written By Joss Wood on September 30, 2016 - Last Updated on January 22, 2018

[toc]In a week where Team Liquid and Team Dignitas have both found new ownership, by aXiomatic and the Philadelphia 76ers respectively, economic news site WirtschaftsWoche has found eight German soccer teams with intentions to get involved in esports.

WirtschaftsWoche contacted a number of German teams and asked them about their interest in esports.

Seventeen teams provided comment, and eight of them reported that they were exploring options about how to get involved.

Of those teams that were not looking at esports, concerns raised included worries about promoting aggression through first person shooter games, and protecting their younger fans from other adverse influences.

Germany may be ahead of most countries when it comes to esports, as exemplified by the success of the ESL One in Cologne in July, but if its soccer teams’ interest is replicated among other major developed countries, 2017 could see a deluge of new deals as sports teams try to acquire the best esports teams and players.

The German teams and their interest

FC Cologne

FC Cologne will be well aware of the esports boom as the ESL One Cologne brought tens of thousands of esports fans to the fourth largest city in Germany.

The club said that it was always looking for innovation, but has not yet decided the form in which it will get involved in esports.

Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen told WirtschaftsWoche that it has a digital strategy and that it is regularly discussing esports, however, at the moment it is in “observation” mode.

Bayern Munich

On of Germany’s most famous clubs, and the fourth most valuable soccer team in the world according to Forbes, Bayern Munich said that it was analyzing esports very closely and that based on that analysis it would decide its strategy.

According to an article on Forbes, the club is expected to make its decision later this year.

Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund is the second most valuable football club in German, but it does not sound like it will make a move into esports.

It said that the most profitable games in esports were not yet settled, and that for the club, esports were not “authentic” or “real.” Borussia Dortmund added that other clubs may assess the situation differently.

Borussia Monchengladbach

Discussions at the “highest level” are taking place at Borussia Monchengladbach on how to get involved in esports. A decision is expected within days.

It is most interested in League of Legends and FIFA, but is examining Overwatch carefully. Borussia Monchengladbach said that it was definitely not interested in first person shooter games like CS:GO.

FC Augsburg

FC Augsburg was abrupt in its response, telling WirtschaftsWoche journalist Oliver Voss that the club believes that “this is not an issue for us.”

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FC Ingolstadt 04

FC Ingolstadt won the German Tag Heuer Virtual Championship last year and says that this alerted it to the importance of esports.

This club too is in the process of “currently analyzing” the esports market before making a determination of what strategy it will follow.

Hamburger SV

Hamburger SV has an interest, but has not yet taken any further action.

Hertha BSC

Hertha BSC is paying “intense” attention to the area of esports but announced no practical intentions as yet.

Mainz 05

Mainz has no plans to get involved in esports.

RB Leipzig

The club has not “seriously engaged with the issue.”

SC Freiburg

Freiburg does not see running an esports team in parallel with the main team as a viable option, however it is looking at how to encourage the interest of its younger fans.

Schalke 04

Schalke was one of the first European sports teams to get involved in esports. It has a League of Legends team, although it lost its LCS slot when the team was relegated after the 2016 Summer Split.

Schalke also has a FIFA team and Tim Reichardt, the club’s head of esports said that Schalke planned to expand the range of titles where it would compete.

SV Darmstadt 98

Another short comment saying that a foray into esports would not be cost effective for a smaller club.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim’s club psychologist Jan Mayer commented that TSG wants to reach out to children through soccer, not through esports.

She said that esports was currently dominated by first person shooter games which do not fit the club’s image or training philosophy. TSG will not invest in a sports trend where it cannot be ruled out that it encourages aggressive or emotionally damaging behavior.

VfL Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg is already active in esports, and on Sept. 27 announced the signing of a third FIFA player to its roster.

Current German FIFA champion, Timo ‘TimoX’ Siep joins David ‘DaveBtw‘ Bytheway and Benedict ‘Salz0r’ Saltzer, who signed up in Feb. 2016.

Wolfsburg’s only interest in esports is through FIFA and the club isn’t interested in esports which have nothing to do with football.

Werder Bremen

Werder Bremen is another club deep into analyzing the opportunities in esports. It is considering serious questions about how it can get involved in a way that will be “authentic,” and how it can be cost effective.

Werder Bremen’s final question to itself is significant: “Can we afford to ignore the issue?”

The club expects to make its decision in the next few months.

Image credit: Ververidis Vasilis /

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Joss Wood

Joss Wood holds an English degree from the University of Birmingham and also earned a master’s degree in organizational development from the University of Manchester. Joss has a special focus on the international online gambling market, though he also writes extensively on US regulated markets, sports betting, and esports betting.

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