Orlando Pirates venture into eSports

Bucs' eSports team consists of ten contracted players, while Akhalwaya been appointed team captain

Premier Soccer League (PSL) heavyweights Orlando Pirates have ventured into professional video gaming, eSports.

Bucs, who made the announcement on their official website on Wednesday, are the latest professional club to buy into eSports which is an abbreviated term for electronic sports and it is the professionalisation of video gaming.

A club statement read: "Orlando Pirates Football Club is delighted to announce its first venture into the eSports arena by announcing its official FIFA eSports team.

"For the first year, Orlando Pirates will focus its eSports energies on Electronic Arts franchise FIFA and will later look to moving into the more popular eSports segments such as Counter-Strike, League of Legends and/or Dota."

“The eSports industry is exploding and there is a huge talent pool in South Africa with untapped potential,” said Tokoloho Moeketsi, who is Pirates' brand activation manager.

“We have noticed that the level of professionalism in eSports has continued to grow over the past years and as Orlando Pirates we feel that now is the right time to enter this industry," he concluded.

The 2017 Pirates eSports team consists of a total ten contracted players and the club will power the eSports division and offer support for training, events and provide eSports-related logistical knowledge and support.

The team will be captained by three-time FIWC contender Abubakar Akhalwaya, who said: “This is a journey that has taken about three years with the Club. I am very happy to be part of this new venture and look forward to being part of the Orlando Pirates eSports family.”

Last year, English Premier League (EPL) side West Ham United became the first football team in the United Kingdom to embrace eSports. 

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The Hammers have since been joined by another EPL side Manchester City, while German Bundesliga clubs Schalke 04 and Wolfsburg also have their own eSports teams.

West Ham hosted the first pro clubs FIFA eSports tournament last year with City, Schalke, Wolfsburg, Portuguese side Sporting CP and English YouTube-based club Hashtag United FC all taking part.

Sean Allen, who was representing the Hammers, lost to Hashtag player Harry Hesketh in the final.