Top division German soccer club FC Schalke 04 has purchased a League of Legends team, buying Elements' spot in the European League Championship Series, Esports Observer's Thiemo Bräutigam reports.
Other soccer clubs, such as West Ham, have signed esports players to sponsorship contracts, and co-owners of the Sacramento Kings started a team in North America. But this move by Schalke would be one of the most aggressive made by an established traditional sporting club to date. Schalke's existing resources far outweigh most esports organizations, as Bräutigam writes:
In terms of operating income, Schalke possesses the seventh-highest operating income of any football club more than $60 million. Schalke is the second-largest football club in Germany and the sixth-largest in the world in terms of memberships.
Formerly known as Alliance, the team was first formed in April 2013 and won the EU LCS in the Summer 2014 season. Rebranded as Elements, the team finished in seventh place in each of the last three seasons. FC Schalke currently sits at seventh place in the Bundesliga table.
Requests for comment made to FC Schalke 04 and Elements have not yet been returned.