Orange County Soccer Club joins the esports world
Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world – it’s global, it appeals to many from all different backgrounds, and the competitions are huge. It’s also the perfect way into the esports world apparently.
It stands to reason, after all, the team-based, location-independent sport follows a simple set of rules but allows for major strategizing and requires more than a bit of athletic ability. Though less popular than other forms of football in the US, soccer is still extremely popular there, and so are its teams.
One such team is the Orange County Soccer Club. It just announced that in addition to its very skilled soccer team, the club would also be founding an esports team – a soccer esports team of course. More specifically, they will be launching a team for the FIFA 11v11 competitions, with the goal of competing in the Virtual Pro Gaming league of VPG.
They’ve set their goals quite high, but at the same time, this step is quite smart – with esports ever on the rise and audiences looking for innovation, the combination of real and virtual football shouldn’t come as a surprise.
It shouldn’t, but it does – this step makes the Orange County Soccer Club the first one in US pro soccer and United Soccer League history to take this step. It all started with OCSC owner & president James A. Keston – he is an avid FIFA and esports fan.
“I have been playing FIFA games for more than 20 years on multiple platforms,” said Keston. “As the world of video games increasingly evolves into both a group activity and a spectator sport, it seems like a natural progression for 11 individual gamers, each controlling one player and communicating with one another, to truly act as a team. With our new esports team, anyone with a PlayStation 4 can now experience the excitement and teamwork that we at Orange County SC work tirelessly to cultivate every day as the only professional soccer team between Long Beach and Tijuana.”
Their choice in competition, the VPG league is quite a solid choice as well: It allows players to participate as a team online, whereas the eMLS Cup launched earlier this year only allows for 1v1 action, this competition allows full teams.
“Generally, esports teams don’t have established fan bases when joining the competitive gaming scene,” said Danny Robinson, COO of VPG. “However, professional soccer clubs like Orange Country SC have established fan bases and strong brand names. We all know that soccer fans are a different breed when it comes to fandom. I am excited to connect soccer fans from Southern California, across the country and around the globe to Orange County SC.” Robinson hopes that when the FIFA 2026 World Cup comes to the United States, there will be a virtual 11v11 World Cup hosted by VPG as well. “