Pittsburgh Steelers Invest in Professional Esports Team

The NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers have invested in professional esports team the Pittsburgh Knights in a deal that strategically joins together two major sports brands with millions of combined fans.

The Pittsburgh Knights have teams that compete in Player Unknown’s Battleground (PUBG), Super Smash Bros., HeartStone, Fortnite, Gwent, and Call of Duty. The organization, founded in December 2017 by esports industry veterans and Pittsburgh natives James O’Connor and Rob Lee, recently competed in the PUBG World Finals, where it garnered more than 60 million viewers.

Pittsburgh: @Steelers x Knights
📰 READ: https://t.co/rSWmK8GdCF
🦁 #KnightLife pic.twitter.com/f5mQhkYZ9t

— Pittsburgh Knights (@KnightsGG) December 11, 2018

The Knights were also recently named one of the 16 teams invited to the inaugural year of PUBG Corp.’s PUBG Pro League, which will debut in North America, Europe, China, and South Korea next year.

“In our pursuit to become a major player in the esports industry, we have garnered the attention of one of the most prolific teams in sports history—the Pittsburgh Steelers,” said the Knights in an announcement posted to their website. “The Steelers have decided to invest and partner with us, not simply because they want to break into the esports industry, but because they believe in the Knights.”

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The companies didn’t provide much detail on what their partnership might look like, except for saying that the Knights will leverage the Steelers’ “seasoned experience and unique skill sets.”

“The Pittsburgh Steelers will be supporting us as much as possible,” said the Knights. “The Steelers will be going along for the ride with us as we strive to follow in their footsteps and bring championship titles to Pittsburgh.”

SportTechie Takeaway

This investment marks the Steelers’ first play in the world of esports. This comes as the esports industry continues to attract the attention of traditional sports teams and leagues, from the Golden State Warriors’ investment in a League of Legends team to the launch of the NBA 2K League. Recently, NASCAR launched an official esports league that will be composed of teams owned by professional driving teams.

The NFL has been slower to adopt esports, however the league earlier this year posted a job looking for a “head of gaming and esports” that would be based in its New York headquarters and lead the “strategic planning, partner management and execution of the League’s gaming efforts.” There are already competitive gaming leagues operated by EA for its NFL Madden game, though that hasn’t been structured professionally the way other leagues, notably Overwatch League and NBA 2K, have, and isn’t as popular as other esports titles. 

With this investment in the Knights, the Steelers are able to throw their hat into the esports ring. They’ll gain access to the Knights’ digital savvy and global fan base as the organization competes in some of the world’s most popular games.

Read more: sporttechie.com

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