Sheffield FC Esports: The Relationship between Tradition and Modernism

Football and its rapid expansion has historically married itself to some of the most popular and profitable mediums in the world: first radio, then television and now video games. So, the natural course of action was to pitch the potential of esports to the oldest football club in the world.

By
Joseph Morris
June 29, 2021

We all like to celebrate a little bit of tradition, don’t we? In some way, shape or form, we are all traditionalists at heart. It plays a big part in the food we eat, the music we listen to, and even the sports we watch.

For some brands, tradition is a crucial part of their identity. How do you stay true to your roots and look to the future at the same time? One of the most exciting challenges we face at Little Mesters is finding the sweet spot between traditionalism and modernism.

English football is steeped in tradition. From the so-called legacy fans down to the younger generation of supporters now emerging in online spaces, tradition is often at the forefront of the beautiful game. Whether you love it or hate it, Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home) has become our collective theme song in every international tournament.

Our clients Sheffield FC are no different. For starters, they are the oldest football club in the world. No one else can lay claim to that title, so it isn’t surprising that the club are keen to shout about it. The tradition of the club is a big part of their brand identity. But as we mentioned earlier, how do you find that sweet spot between tradition and modernity? Well, let’s take a look at football from the outside.

Fundamentally, there is a lot more to modern sport than what happens on the pitch, the ice rink, or the court. A series of advances in technology have made sure of that, and one sector which has recently taken advantage of this boom in sports media is the video game industry. According to The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE), the overall population of players in the UK increased by 63% over the course of Spring 2020.

So where does Sheffield FC come into all of this? The simple answer to that question is esports. If you’re unsure what that actually is, esports is the term used to describe competitive video games. It might be easier to think of it as two players competing against each other for a cash prize.

In the last decade, this particular industry has seen a significant increase in popularity. In 2020 alone, the predicted total of revenue in esports reached $1.1 billion with an annual growth of 15.7%. Pretty impressive, right?

Football and its rapid expansion has historically married itself to some of the most popular and profitable mediums in the world: first radio, then television and now video games. So, the natural course of action was to pitch the potential of esports to the oldest football club in the world. In June, we helped launch Sheffield FC Esports in partnership with DeleeFIFA and 4 Sake Esports. The response was overwhelmingly positive and there are exciting plans ahead.

The truth is that the sweet spot that we keep mentioning has been there the whole time. That might sound ambiguous at first, but Sheffield FC were trailblazers back in 1857. The multi-billion pound industry we know and love today is a product of Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest’s radical decision to form a football club in the mid 19th century. As it turns out, Sheffield FC had embraced its very own brand of modernisation then, and Sheffield FC Esports is just another example of their legacy.

In attempting to modernise Sheffield FC by bringing them into the world of esports, we have also brought them closer to their tradition - as rebels and revolutionaries. For Sheffield FC, their tradition is modernity.