It’s been a big year for Aussie eSports, folks. We hosted the massive Intel Extreme Masters event in Sydney, the Adelaide Crows acquired a pro League of Legends team, and now, Essendon have followed suit.

LoL team, Abyss, has been secured by the AFL club in partnership with Executive Sports and Entertainment and will compete in next year’s Oceanic Pro League and Oceanic Challenger League.

The team will be relocating to Melbourne where it will become a fully integrated division of the Essendon club, taking on a new name, brand and logo. They’ll be the first team acquired by a Victorian AFL club and the first professional eSports team to be based in Melbourne.

“eSports teams are no different to any other professional sports club model and eSports fans are no different to any other sports fans in their passion to support their team,” Essendon chief marketing officer Justin Rodski said in a statement. 

“We will bring our expertise in elite and professional sport to strengthen the team across all areas, including a particular focus on player welfare and development.”

For those still in denial, the global eSports audience is projected to reach 400 million in 2018 and during 2017, its economy grew to a massive US$696 million. It’s a big bloody deal, friends.

You can expect to see a lot more of these acquisitions, too, as traditional sporting teams embrace the growing eSports fanbase and the opportunities that emerge. Internationally, sports clubs like the Philadelphia 76ersMiami Heat and the New York Yankees have all invested in eSports.

It’s awesome to see Aussie institutions getting in on the action. Earlier this year, the country got its very first high performance eSports centre housed in the SCG, which sounds nerdy as hell, but actually gives us a much better chance in international tournaments where the competition is years ahead of us in terms of both professional recognition and training facilities.

2018 is sure to be a mammoth year for nerds.

Image: Red Bull