If there's any evidence that eSports gaming is becoming more mainstream, a professional football club has signed an eSports FIFA player - 22 year old David Bytheway - to be one of its eSports gaming representatives.
Bytheway, who started playing Electronic Arts' Football game professionally when he was 17, had represented the UK in FIFA Interactive World Cup championships in Las Vegas, New York and Rio de Janeiro. Now, he will represent VfL Wolfsburg in Germany.
The young gamer, naturally, remains gobsmacked at being asked to represent a real footie club. "It's absolutely massive for me the fact that a team like Wolfsburg have gotten involved with gaming," Bytheway said in an interview. "It was just something I was doing at home to start with, just playing my friends and wanting to be the best out of them, and all of a sudden I'm a part of a football club."
VfL Wolfsburg is unusual compared to other clubs in that it's actually owned by Volkswagen, and covers other sports including badminton, handball and athletics. Its players are literally employees of the car company, as is Bytheway now. He even gets his own Wolfsburg jersey and number.
Like any footballer, Bytheway has to train. "I always try to get in at least four to six games in a day, but you don't want to play too many people because then you give away your secrets. So you stick between one or two and then you have to wait for them to come online." He also notes he has to "play people around your own skill level" for training to be any good.
Bytheway thinks this is a turning point for eSports. It'll be interesting to see how much push this story gets in mainstream sporting press.