The electronic sports (esports) They have gained a lot of popularity in the last time and even more since the pandemic began: participants, audience and sponsors added. And it is that they offer parallel entertainment to people confined to their homes, who also could not follow their traditional soccer team.
The most important electronic soccer league in the country is IESA Argentina that, in addition, it is the largest in the world. Its first season, in 2017, had 362 participants distributed in 30 teams. Today, after 15 editions and a growth in leaps and bounds due to the pandemic, more than 15,000 players and brings together more than a thousand teams.
At the moment, IESA Argentina could fill the Ferro stadium, Arsenal or Defense and Justice only with their registered players.
However, Boca Juniors and River Plate, the two most popular clubs in the country, do not participate and are relegated to this competition for legal reasons: both have a contract with Konami, developer of the Pro Evolution Soccer game and historical competition of FIFA.
The International eSports Association (IESA) organizes FIFA 21 tournaments throughout South America.
This contractual issue prevents them from having representatives in what is currently the largest league in the world, where there are many other traditional clubs in the country.
In dialogue with Clarion, Juan Manuel Viera, IESA’s star rapporteur, explained that the main problem is not to enter the world of electronic football late, but the how.
“Any traditional club in Argentina can bet on esports, the issue is the form. If a team is put together just to say “we are here”, waiting for that world to explode, when that happens they will not be the cause of the quality jump “, he explained.
And he added: “It must be decided if it is done simply by a marketing strategy, to generate an image impact; or if you really bet on esports as something that in the future will be profitable for the club ”.
Boca launched its esports team in November 2020. So far, it has prioritized and opted to compete in video games that they are not related to football, such as League of Legends (LOL) and Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO).
In this regard, Juan Manuel believes that in Argentina, any football club that wants to have contact with the people, and that its fans and partners feel represented, “It has to go on the side of FIFA or PES”.
“When Boca was the first Argentine club in break contract with EA Sports (the creator of FIFA), the argument was that Konami had offered them more money. If that is the concept, clearly there is the error. The key to the regulation of electronic sports was given to a person who bets more on other games ”, added the rapporteur.
A clear example of what it means to enter this world in the best way is KRÜ Esports, the club whose owner is Sergio Kun Agüero. It was founded in October 2020 and in a few months it achieved brilliant results.
Sebastián Fernández, youtuber and FIFA Manager of KRÜ Esports, Sergio Agüero’s team.
To achieve this, Kun knew how to surround himself with people who advised him in the best way and one of those people was Sebastian Fernandez, the youtuber and content creator whom Agüero named his club’s FIFA Manager.
For Sebas -a benchmark in Argentina-, many still look at esports out of the corner of their eye, as a “weirdo” or as a waste of money. “I think that several enter late due to ignorance. Although within the clubs there are people who understand what an esports area can represent, perhaps from higher up they do not give them the necessary tools ”.
Sebastián’s role at KRÜ is to be the link between the players and the club: “Accompany the boys on a day-to-day basis, advise them, attend to their needs, make them trust their potential and know that behind them they have a club that trusts them.”
For Sebas, giving players tools is essential: “When I decided to bring Valentin Mazzalupo and Matías Bonanno (KRÜ players) it was because they were performing very well with very few tools. They both stood out on the scene with very few FIFA Points. With few resources, they had shown a lot of talent, and that allowed them to narrow the gap between the clubs and themselves, “he explained.
Matías Bonanno, KRÜ Esports player. He became champion of the first CONMEBOL eLibertadores on PlayStation 4.
And he says: “So, my reasoning was: ‘if these guys, with zero support, could stand out, what would happen if we provided them with support and the best conditions?’ The individual conditions of each player, accompanied by a good infrastructure, bear fruit”.
FIFA Points is the virtual currency of the video game that allow you to build a much more competitive team quickly, and thus helps the player to show their full potential.
For example, at KRÜ, at the start of the season, each player receives $ 2,500 of FIFA Points in your account. Something that would be very difficult when participating individually, since it is a lot of money.
“Dreams come true” reads the poster that Sebastián placed in his set-up from which he broadcasts every day. And what if they were not fulfilled for him, who today works alongside one of his greatest idols.
“I was a recontra fan of Kun. Having trust with him is a dream. It is the great opportunity of my life, I take it with great responsibility ”, he said.
Virtual soccer has similarities and differences from traditional soccer. In terms of accessibility, it is undoubtedly much easier to get to compete in the “big leagues” of esports.
Lucas “Luqenz” Pereyra He is 25 years old, plays as a libero and since 2018 has been a member of the Independiente squad with several friends. These players, now professionals, competed together since the beginning of IESA but on their own, without representing an official club. The good results quickly caught the attention of several teams.
Lucas “Luqenz” Pereyra, Independiente’s professional player in the FIFA 21 video game.
“We knew each other a lot and we won several of the competitions that IESA Argentina presented to us. In 2018 we decided to take as our representative what we consider the most serious institution in Argentina at the FIFA level, which was Independent”, He told Clarín.
For Luqenz, enter the world of electronic football to compete “It is not difficult, but you have to have time and desire”. Clubs test players in all positions, and the modality is practically equal to traditional football. For logistical reasons, everything is made much easier with virtuality.
“When you show up to try out at a club, you spend several days with the group. If the ‘small table’ looks good on you, they will offer you to stay. It is a test of ability and personality“Said the Independiente player.
When representing a club, players must take the commitment with great responsibility. Each team trains, on average, two hours per day (with each player from their home), in which they compete randomly against rivals from all over Latin America.
“In training they create stopped ball plays and basic movements are mechanized that later, during a game for the points, they have to come out naturally ”, explained Lucas. All preparation is done with the focus on IESA Argentina.
Where will virtual football in Argentina be in the short and long term?
In order to Sebastian Fernandez, will grow by leaps and bounds: “Every time with more clubs and people. With more companies and brands that bet on this and allow more and more professional players. That way there will be a more competitive scene and consequently the level goes to theandvar. That brands come closer will generate that more and more children have their contract and their income ”.
Juan Manuel Viera hopes that, in the long term, in Argentina there is a law that recognizes esports athletes as talentss: “That they can have their rights, their responsibilities and that the clubs have a contractual relationship with them. That they have a social work and a retirement. That this discipline can be practiced in Argentina without having to go elsewhere ”.
In addition, Viera leaves a valuable message about what esports means: “They are part of a cultural change very important. They do not have a gender distinction, neither in terms of physical capabilities. A person who uses a wheelchair can compete without problems at the same level as anyone; and a boy can play against a girl and there will be no physical differences ”.
There is no doubt that the arrival of Boca and River at IESA would generate a much greater impact than any other club can generate. The great massiveness with which they have in their networks would give them an advantage over the rest of the Argentine clubs.
Surely it is a matter of time for that to happen.
Today reality shows that esports are here to stay. Traditional football was hit hard by the pandemic. Electronic football, far from intimidating it, strengthened it and made it accelerate many deadlines. No other discipline grew so much in such a short time.
Juan Manuel Viera, IESA star rapporteur.
However, many other Argentine soccer teams participate in IESA and compete hand-in-hand with the new clubs. Among them are, for example, Independiente, Racing, San Lorenzo, Huracán, Rosario Central, Newell’s, Estudiantes and Gimnasia. More than a hundred clubs, which have years of history in traditional Argentine football – either in first class or in promotion – bet and show their commitment to electronic sport.
Independent, one of the pioneers (created his team in 2018), released the first shirt designed especially for an esports team. It was marketed by Cougar, the brand in charge of the Avellaneda outfit.
Generations advance and evolve. Whether out of conviction, pleasure or necessity, discipline will surely end up capturing the attention of leaders. After all, esports they are still a business unit.
Luna Brailovsky, Iván Puga and Joaquín Eguía from the Clarín / San Andrés Master’s Degree.