ESports the new frontier for Premier League clubs, says Ruud Gullit

More than seven million players took part in last year's FIFA Interactive World Cup. (AFP)
Updated 23 March 2018
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ESports the new frontier for Premier League clubs, says Ruud Gullit

LONDON: Dutch football great Ruud Gullit has urged Chelsea and other Premier League clubs to embrace the “new era” by establishing eSports teams to boost their profile and widen their global fanbases.
The former AC Milan star has set up Team Gullit, the first independent FIFA eSports academy, with three players and is set to add more from an original 3,200 applicants as he switches his focus from the pitch to the screen.
Gullit, 55, says West Ham and Manchester City have blazed a trail for their Premier League rivals by launching eSports teams.
“You can reach people, the whole world through this game (FIFA) and that is important for teams like Chelsea,” the former Chelsea player-manager told AFP at a Betting on Football conference at Stamford Bridge.
“In Holland all the Eredivisie teams have an eteam player, there is a competition and it is watched by more people on TV than the Dutch second division. The exposure is unbelievable.”
Gullit, who also has young Dutch Formula One sensation Max Verstappen playing unofficially on his team, said he was bowled over by the seven million players who took part in last year’s FIFA Interactive World Cup.
“Before, they were just playing alone in their bedrooms but now they can do something with it and if they are good enough, get out of their rooms and go to events,” he said.
English player Spencer Ealing, nicknamed “Gorilla,” won last year’s Grand Final in London, pocketing prize money of $200,000.
“I think for these players things will get better, better, better because so many people want to play it,” said Gullit.
“There will be sponsorship for the players, which is great, but they can only get better if they play for the big teams.
“Then you will have somebody to take care of you, you will have to travel and go to tournaments. There is a lot more going on but there is a team around you.”
In a promotional video on the Team Gullit website, the Dutchman says of FIFA: “It’s not a game in itself any more, it’s a professional thing. Football also started all as a game — now it’s become almost life.”
But the Euro 1988-winning captain said he understood those who complain that eSports is not really a sport.
“We think that sports is about you doing something physical,” he said. “Therefore some people think that eSport is not a sport.
“That was the argument about darts but it has become so huge they recognize it as people playing sport.”
Gullit, who confesses he is not as handy with controls as he was on the football pitch, is happy that he lives on in the game, alongside other players from a previous era.
“One of the greatest players to ever play the game goes digital,” trumpets the video on the Team Gullit website.
“When you see kids these days they don’t recognize you from your playing days, they know you from PlayStation,” said Gullit, who won the Ballon D’Or in 1987.
“They say to me ‘we want you but you are very expensive, but nevertheless how do we get you’ and I say ask my girlfriend,” he added, chuckling.
He said education is prioritized for his young players, who can play dozens of games at weekends.
“This is a new era, you have to adapt to it,” said Gullit, whose 16-year-old son Maxim is an avid FIFA player.
“Sometimes you fight it too much. You give an iPad to little kids and they know what to do, we didn’t have that. You adapt to the new generation and what they have.”
— AFP


Thunder and lightning ends England run chase in Sri Lanka, England win on DLS method

Updated 6 min 22 sec ago
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Thunder and lightning ends England run chase in Sri Lanka, England win on DLS method

KANDY: Thunder, lightning and torrential rain halted England on their Sri Lanka tour Saturday, but they wrapped up the one-day series against their hosts with a faster run rate.
After Dasun Shanaka hit a boundary-smattered 66 to help Sri Lanka make 273-7 from their 50 overs, Jason Roy made 45 and England pair Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan were just shifting up a gear in the chase when dark clouds gathered over Kandy.
With England on 132-2 from 27 overs, Root (32) and Morgan (31) seemed well placed to put their side on the route to victory. They already led the series 2-0 going into the fourth of the five games.
As with the other wins, the decision came with the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern run rate system,and England were awarded victory by 18 runs. Every game in the series has now been halted or interrupted by rain.
While frustrated, Morgan will be satisfied with the show from his team in difficult circumstances.
Roy closed in on a half century which included a six and five fours when an Akila Dananjaya leg spin hit his pad as he came down the wicket. The umpire did not give him out — but Sri Lanka demanded a review, which proved their shouting was justified.
Morgan himself was shunting ahead with a six and three fours in 34 balls when the deluge started.
Earlier, Shanaka led another starring role for Sri Lanka’s middle order after England won the toss and made the home side bat at the Pallekele stadium.
Opener Niroshan Dickwella’s 52 was the only resistance shown by Sri Lanka’s leading batsmen.
Shanaka made five sixes and four fours in his highest 50-over score, which kept Sri Lanka in a game they had to win to hold out any hope of avoiding another series defeat.
Moeen Ali was England’s most effective bowler, taking two for 55 as the tourists used a mixture of spin and pace to maintain pressure.
Dickwella steadied the Sri Lanka innings, putting on 60 for the second wicket, with captain Dinesh Chandimal (30) after Sadeera Samaawickrama fell for one.
Thisara Perera (44) and Dananjaya (32 not out) put on 56 for the seventh wicket to give a late boost to the score.
The final one-day game is in Colombo on Tuesday while the two play a 20 over challenge next Saturday. They will play three Tests in November.