West Ham United has become the first Premier League football club to sign an eSports player – and the news story has blown up online.
The club announced it has signed Sean “Dragonn” Allen, formerly of exceL eSports, who was runner-up in the FIFA Interactive World Cup in March.
The 24-year-old Brit narrowly missed out on lifting the trophy, after losing to Mohamad Al-Bacha who scored a winning goal in the last minute of the game.
While it’s not the first time a British FIFA player has joined an actual football club (David “Davebtw” Bytheway plays for Wolfsburg), it’s the first Premier League club to do so. And the story has generated a lot of headlines, both in the national press and the specialist games media, as well as tech sites like Engadget.
It’s been picked up by the following publications to name a few:
- BBC Sport
- The Daily Mail
- Fox Sports
- Motherboard (Vice)
- The Mirror
- Bleacher Report
- PC Games N
- Tech Crunch
- Digital Spy
- Daily Star
- Red Bull
- The Express
While it’s not a publication as such, well-known gaming forum NeoGaf also picked up the story.
Most of the articles didn’t have any comments at all, but the comments on Eurogamer were largely positive.
It’s fantastic to see a story like this getting some mainstream media coverage, and while there’s no doubt the West Ham name helped the story get picked up, it bodes well for the future of eSports in the UK.
I am very proud to announce… that I am the official FIFA Player for @whufc_official.
— Sean Allen (@Dragonn_WHUFC) 6 May 2016
As other British football clubs sign players, more coverage will be given and, in turn, hopefully help competitive gaming get some widespread recognition and acceptance.
Dragonn played his first FIFA match in a West Ham shirt on the weekend at the Gfinity Arena Play Like a Legend tournament. That competition was won by Spencer “Gorilla” Ealing – one of the UK’s highest-earning eSports pros – who beat Dragonn in the quarter-final.
“I am delighted to be joining West Ham United as their official eSports player,” said Dragonn. “This is a massive move forward for me. I have been playing competitive FIFA for a very long time and this is the biggest thing ever to happen to me.
West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic added: “This is a big move for West Ham United. I have heard that Sean is a big player in the eSports arena so I am delighted that we have managed to secure his services.
“I hope he can now go on to represent the club with pride across the globe – he will certainly have the support of all the lads whenever he dons the claret and blue.”
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League of Legends and World of Warcraft player, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association and runs ENUK in his spare time.