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SK Gaming list 1. FC Köln, Mercedes Benz as owners

SK Gaming list 1. FC Köln, Mercedes Benz as owners

SK Gaming have announced a change in ownership ahead of the 2019 LEC spring split, as they have joined forces with automotive brand Mercedes-Benz and German football club 1. FC Köln.

SK Gaming announced on their website that Mercedes-Benz and 1. FC Köln have bought ESForce Holding’s ownership share. As a result, the dynamic between the parties goes beyond sponsorship. Mercedes-Benz’s inclusion among SK Gaming’s owners follows similar moves by Audi (Origen) and Renault (Team Vitality), but differs in magnitude.

Bettina Fetzer, Vice President Marketing Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars, said the following on Daimler AG’s press release:

We are fascinated by both the enthusiasm of this young and digital generation for professional gaming and the totally new form of media consumption and communication within the fan community. By getting involved in SK Gaming we want to participate in this dialogue – as an open-minded and interested partner. After nearly two years of involvement in eSports we have now decided to systematically take the next step.

Mercedes-Benz thus joins 1. FC Köln as shareholders of the organization, which is set to return to the LEC (formerly EU LCS) on Jan. 18, 2019. SK Gaming already counted 1. FC Köln as partners, but the events represent an evolution in their relationship. SK’s FIFA team already wears the football club’s colors, and the partnership now extends beyond FIFA. As a result, teams under the SK umbrella will feature the #EFFZEH tag on their jersey, a phonetic approximation of “FC” in German.

1. FC Köln’s Managing Director, Alexander Wehrle, said the following on the football club’s press release:

Deciding is on the field. This sentence does in no way contradict our interest in developing ourselves in every possible field. We always assumed that this development will not cripple, but strengthen the FC as a professional football club. And that is exactly what our engagement in esports is all about. We don’t want to replace the ball with the controller, but be present where ideas, trends and business models evolve and, in turn, strengthen the raison d’être of the FC.

The developments provide SK Gaming with a huge pool of resources which, alongside the Deutsche Telekom sponsorship, positions them in a unique position among esports organizations within the German ecosystem. SK Gaming’s managing director, Alexander “DeSchlang” Müller, had the following to say on 1. FC Köln’s press release:

As early as 1997, when we started SK Gaming, we were firmly convinced that professional gaming would become popular and successful on a global scale. We drive this development with all our passion in our daily work. Although the esports market is global [in nature], having such close ties with the 1.FC Köln as Cologne citizens is very special. I am sure that we can learn and benefit a lot from each other, and that this engagement will fully pay off for the FC.

Disclaimer: Lukas “Krincy” Krings provided translations for 1. FC Köln’s quotes as well as Alexander Müller’s, as the press release was available only in German.

Image source: Daimler AG (image used for editorial purposes)

Adel Chouadria

Adel Chouadria is a League of Legends writer covering the LEC for five years, and the European Regional Leagues starting 2019. He has witnessed the Unicorns of Love's rise and fall from Day 1, as well as G2's sudden ascension to contender status. Besides that, he is fond of basketball, pro wrestling, and cake.

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