It's too early to say whether this is becoming a trend, but for the second time in as many months a major European soccer team is forming a League of Legends team. Valencia CF is set to announce its move into esports with a press conference on Tuesday in Spain.
Update: Valencia officially announced the team, with a roster featuring former Giants Gaming starters Isaac “Pepiinero” Flores and Adrian “Adryh” Perez
The six-time La Liga champions follow FC Schalke 04 as two of the first two European soccer teams that are looking to make a play in esports. Esports Observer reports that the announcement will unveil a League of Legends team, along with aspirations to be involved in Hearthstone and Rocket League before the end of the year. It's unclear at this time whether Valencia CF would look at purchasing a sport in the EU LCS, but it's important to note that both Origen and Giants are based out of Spain.
I asked SB Nation soccer editor Kevin McCauley to explain Valencia CF's past success in La Liga, and what has prompted some troubles for the once-dominant Spanish team.
"Valencia won La Liga a couple of times in the 2000s, but hasn’t reached the same heights since, partially due to financial troubles.
They’re owned by Singapore billionaire Peter Lim, who is known more in the sports world for his cozy relationship with soccer agent Jorge Mendes than anything else, and that appears to influence sporting decisions at the club. However, he’s certainly better than what preceded him.
Before Lim showed up, Valencia was nearly bankrupted by trying to build a new stadium and assuming they could sell off the old one right before the 2008 global recession. The concrete skeleton of the ‘Nou Mestalla’ has sat untouched for years and the stadium will probably never be completed. Facing massive debt, the team had to sell off iconic players that became superstars at bigger clubs like David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata.
Valencia was once known as one of the best run clubs in the world from a sporting and business perspective. They’ve been anything but that over the last decade. Maybe Mendes is growing tired of soccer and sees eSports as the future."
Seeing soccer teams move into the realm of esports has players excited. Paul "sOAZ" Boyer has the lofty goal of FC Barcelona joining the ranks.
@FCBarcelona are you guys looking to invest in esport ? i know a really good lol team !— Paul Boyer (@sOAZIZGOOD) May 16, 2016
"So I looked to traditional sports. I used to play soccer myself, so I follow the big coaches in the soccer world. In my case, it was José Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson. With that in mind, I used to joke with my friends like, "Someday, I'm going to coach Real Madrid esports."
We'll know more about Valencia CF's aspirations on Tuesday. Until then we'll wait to see what July brings, because we might just see another big-name soccer team throw its hat in the ring.