FC Barcelona recently agreed in principle to partner with Tencent, a multinational Chinese-based company, to enter the esports arena. Details of the partnership are still being formulated, but the resources are significant enough to have a major impact on the latest billion-dollar-plus sport. Tencent ranks as the world’s largest video gaming company, and it is also one of the world’s largest social media platforms.

The company provides venture capital to all kinds of companies, and the partnership with FC Barcelona is sure to serve as a template for other sports franchises seeking to expand into esports.

Esports revenue is expected to surpass $1.6 billion by 2021, and increasingly influential companies are chomping at the bit to get in on the ground floor of an increasingly popular esports industry. Given the concerns of coronavirus exposure, esports are likely to benefit even more from the reduced schedules of live sporting events around the world.

FC Barcelona recently expanded into esports’ Rocket League with a high-profile roster that competed in the European division of the Rocket League Championship Series, or RLCS. The move helped heighten Spanish interest in esports during the worst times of coronavirus isolation. The FC Barcelona Rocket Ship league sports is represented by David “Deevo” William, Adrián “Bymateos” Mateos, Yanis “Alpha54” Champenois and Daniel “Bluey” Brian.

Sports Collaboration Expands into Virtual Play

The collaboration between two top names in entertainment and sports bodes well for esports. Tencent already owns 40% of Fortnite, the creator of Epic Games. The company also owns LOL and Clash Royale game developers. Tencent also has a partnership with Manchester City Barca.

The agreement with FC Barcelona, a soccer giant of the industry, will trigger esports expansion at an unprecedented level. The La Liga club plans to compete in Psyonix’s Rocket League championship games and Konami’s eFootball PES. The collaborative effort will include the matches, esports education, merchandising and industry exchanges with an eye to developing a healthy partnership between traditional sports franchises and their esports counterparts.

Earlier Efforts to Join the Chinese League of Legends

FC Barcelona was reported to be interested in joining the Chinese League of Legends earlier in 2020. The alliance with Tencent will probably pave the way for this to become a reality. Tencent partially owns TJ Sports, a company that owns and operates the League of Legends Pro League.

The details remain fluid as the two companies negotiate the details of their alliance, but FC Barcelona’s possible participation in the League of Legends is one of the likeliest outcomes of the collaboration. The innovations of the agreement include other possible areas of cooperation and development.

Tencent spokesperson Cheng Wu indicated that the two companies would explore other areas of interest in esports education and gaming. That leaves a lot of wiggle room for initiatives that are sure to favor the fledgling esports industry. You could easily see Messi leading a team to a title in the League of Legends.