The explosive growth of eSport has also reached Estonia! Nõmme Kalju FC, in cooperation with 24h Production team, will open its eSports department and create an e-football team as the first football club in Estonia.
The newly formed Nõmme Kalju eSports team will compete under the name of NKFC eSports. In the first phase, their main focus is on the football simulation game FIFA, but there is a definite plan to expand to other well-known game titles such as DOTA 2, League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, in the future.
With the creation of its eSports team, NKFC (like other well-known European football clubs such as Ajax, PSG, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Schalke 04, AS Roma), have entered the world of eSports.
In the entertainment and sports world, eSport has experienced a rapid growth during the last decade Today, there are nearly 30 different established eSports titles from battle games like Counter-Strike to sports simulations like FIFA. In 2017, eSports reached an estimated 400 million viewers with a projected audience of 600 million by 2020. Prize funds have also risen sharply, rising to approximately $ 121 million in 2017.
The newly formed team NKFC eSport is currently composed of two Estonian players but is expected to grow to 8 players from mainly Northern Europe. At this moment the team is negotiating with a Swedish eSport player, who has already made a name for himself in FIFA on the global scene.
The first members of NKFC eSports are two of Estonia’s best FIFA players; Henry William Heinola and Marko-Alari Lont. Marko, also known as “Maroco”, has been regularly broadcasting on the Twitch.tv platform for the last year, playing FIFA and gaining a community of followers. Both players have won a number of tournaments, including the Estonian Virtual Tournament Series and the FIFA Night of the Tournaments. Heinola will wear shirt number 24 and his eSports name will be NKFC_Henry, Lont’s shirt number will be 11 and his eSports name will be NKFC_Maroco.
The pro players are very excited for the opportunity to represent NKFC. “It is very exciting to be an established professional player in the first e-football club of Estonia, to be a part of creating a professional Estonian eSports culture.” commented Lont. Heinola added: “I’m veryexcited about our future with NKFC. We want to develop and promote eSports culture in Estonia. We want to show that it is possible for Estonia to reach the highest level in the world and secure its future on the eSports scene. We have all the means to do this and now we have taken the first step”
NKFC’s co-founder is 24h Production, a company engaged in video production and live broadcasting. Established in 2016, the companies main focus are on poker, eSports live events, and development of marketing strategies for the industry. 24h Production has a wide and stable customerbase across Europe.
Tim Vaino, the managing director of 24h Production, commented on the cooperation: “The values of 24h Production and Nõmme Kalju are even on every level – we always look towards the future, we have a clear vision and we are innovative in our activities. As big football enthusiasts, we had no doubt that with NKFC we have the opportunity to achieve great goals together. We have seen the future in eSports for a long time now.”
A goal of NKFC is summarized by Vaino: “We want to contribute to the growth and popularization of Estonian eSports culture. To do this, we intend to bring meaningful scenes of eSports to both existing fans and future supporters.”
Kuno Tehva, the President of Nõmme Kalju FC adds: “In the creation of our eSports department, NKFC targets to create an organized virtual sports ecosystem in Estonia that would systematically develop into European or even global reach that should be convenient for everyone interested to follow. Estonia is perceived internationally as an e-state, for example with its introduction of e-citizenship, eSports is the next logical step. This is a great opportunity for Estonia, we have all the prerequisites for reaching the top of the world in eSports, because eSport doesn’t know any boundaries and we can build our mega stadiums in the virtual world and we are technically and mentally well prepared for it.”
By now, already two sponsors have joined the NKFC eSports, including Isport and Impuls. “Since Isport is a long-time partner of Nõmme Kalju FC, we support all new initiatives and ventures of Nõmme Kalju FC, we have done it in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Creating a team like this is very innovative in Estonian football and it all promotes more football and will bring more and more young people to football in the future.” said Jaanek Metsva, Chairman of the Board of Isport. Impuls Marketing Manager Gerda Mändsalu added: “eSport is our future and as our very good partner, Nõmme Kalju FC, is taking a step into the eSports world, we decided to join and make a contribution, because we find their lifestyle similar to ours”.
On the 20th of March, a friendly match was held between Nõmme Kalju FC and NKFC eSport Team, where the FIFA’19 game was played on a Playstation console at Hiiu Stadium. NKFC eSport athletes NKFC_Maroco and NKFC_Henry were challenged by the best goalscorer of Premium Liiga, Liliu and Maximiliano Uggé, the captain of Nõmme Kalju FC. The match was won by NKFC eSport Team with the score 4:0.
A more detailed overview of our plans in the field of eSports will be provided by Nõmme Kalju FC and 24h Production in the coming days.