Two prominent professional athletes from either side of the Atlantic announced their entry into the esports space last week, as former American footballer Kenny Vaccaro and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea established organisations.

The developments are indicative of increasing engagement between the esports and traditional sports spaces on many levels, but most significantly on a business one.

Breaking down the news on the latest ESI Digest, Esports Insider Sub-Editor Tom Daniels made observations on the business choices of both athletes, noting that Vaccaro would be taking a direct role in management whilst de Gea’s firm was looking at some interesting markets.

Vaccaro’s company, Gamers First (G1), will be headquartered in Austin, Texas and will see the former New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans player serve as CEO.

“I think this is very interesting for two reasons,” Daniels remarked. “Firstly, the fact that we’ve seen a professional sports athlete join an esports organisation, we’re seeing it more and more often. Seeing these professional sports athletes going into the sector is really interesting.”

“What I think is also more interesting is that he has retired and immediately gone into esports, and actually gone into what is a senior executive role. He’s not just going to be a cofounder and co-owner and be in the back, he’s actually going to be developing talent according to his and running the business operations.”

David de Gea, meanwhile, has launched Rebels Gaming, which will field team rosters in a number of tournaments whilst also incorporating content creators and streamers into its operations. 

Details on the personnel joining Rebels Gaming were not disclosed but the release did confirm that a ‘team of great esports professionals’ will be working on the project across its various departments.

The goalkeeper is the second Red Devil to enter esports, following on from teammate Jesse Lingard, who acquired Audacity Esports in September.

“What’s really intriguing about this is the fact that it’s going to be into Rainbow Siege, which could then coincide with Jesse Lingard, who is also a Manchester United player,” Daniels commented.

“There is that possibility that there are two Manchester United players who have esports organisations which could potentially compete against each other in the near future.”

Daniels also observed that many sports athletes who are entering esports are now looking at titles and markets such as Rainbow Siege, Valorant and League of Legends, instead of products associated with traditional sports such as the FIFA series.

ESI Digest: Two more pro athletes enter the esports space