David Beckham is the latest high-profile sports star to segue into esports. Guild Esports launches today with Beckham as co-owner, initially focusing on Rocket League, FIFA and Fortnite. The UK-based company will operate through a traditional academy model, with the most promising players coached by industry experts to professional level, and a roster of scouts continually on the hunt for the best new talent.
While Beckham already has a wealth of experience in sports business development (most recently through his co-ownership of Inter Miami CF in the MLS), most of the day-to-day running of Guild will fall to Carleton Curtis, who’s left his role of vice president at Activision — where he set up leagues for Overwatch and Call of Duty — to pursue the new venture.
Beckham is a global superstar, so his involvement with Guild will definitely earn it a lot of interest. But he’s certainly not the first footballer to move into esports. Ex-Chelsea player Ruud Gullit runs Team Gullit, Gareth Bale heads up Ellevens Esports and Ronaldinho Gaúcho has launched R10 Esports. Mesut Özil’s M10 company, meanwhile, represents the first duo winner of the Fortnite World Cup.
Esports is obviously a natural move for former footballers, and it’s certainly a lucrative one. The global esports market is currently valued at around $1.1 billion, expected to grow by 42 percent to $1.56 billion by 2023. This would certainly explain why so many other celebrities and athletes are looking to get a piece of the pie. Drake, Michael Jordan, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Odell Beckham Jr. are just some of the major names attached to the rapidly growing sector. We can definitely expect to see more in the future.