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Mercedes and FC Köln set first with esports investment

Mercedes-Benz and FC Köln have today (Tuesday) claimed firsts by agreeing a takeover deal for German esports team SK Gaming.

SK Gaming is under new ownership following the acquisition of ESForce’s shares by Mercedes-Benz and FC Köln, pending the approval of regulatory authorities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Esports Insider website said the two parties will acquire a 67-per-cent stake.

Mercedes-Benz will become the first vehicle manufacturer to invest in an esports team. The brand’s commitment to esports began when it became an ESL partner in 2017 and deepened in October when it became a global ESL mobility partner.

Within the partnership the Mercedes star will be present on the front of the SK Gaming shirts. As well as logo presence the cooperation also includes extensive content projects, joint activation opportunities and the mutual transfer of know-how.

Bettina Fetzer, director, global communications at Mercedes-Benz, said: “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.”

FC Köln, which currently competes in the 2. Bundesliga, claims it is the first German football club to invest in an established esports company. SK Gaming will represent FC Köln in esports competitions and the club will also receive branding rights.

FC Köln’s #effzeh logo will be present on the jersey sleeve of SK Gaming. The club’s managing director, Alexander Wehrle, said: “Our previous cooperation has shown that FC and SK Gaming fit together very well. Now there is a unique opportunity to join a top company in the booming esports (market), to which we have a personal bond and with whom we share our roots in Cologne.

“We wanted to use this opportunity. The fact that Daimler is also a shareholder alongside us shows how rapidly esport has developed and what economic potential it has.”

Wehrle added: “We do not want to replace the ball at the FC with the controller, but to be part of ideas, trends and business models that we can use to strengthen the raison d’être of FC, professional football.”