As a supplement to the live recorded Finnish Football Show, here’s something slightly different, a selection of interviews from the SJK press conference to launch its new eSports team.
Show Notes & Video
In this episode, Mark Wiltshear from @explorefinland attends the press conference at OmaSp Stadion on Monday 9.1.2107, when SJK Seinäjoki launched its new eSports team, and unveiled its first player Juho ‘Koppinen’ Järvelä.
Big thanks to the five interviewees that spoke to me today:
- Mikko Jokipii, Event Manager, SJK eSports
- Janne Kotamäki, Director of Football, SJK Seinäjoki
- Jussi Kankaanpää, Sales & Marketing Manager, SJK Seinäjoki
- Pekka Riihimää, Team Manager, SJK eSports
- Juho ‘Koppinen’ Järvelä, SJK eSports’ 1st Player
SJK Press Release 6.9.2017
SJK Seinajoki gets into eSports by forming it’s own eSports team
The Finnish football club SJK Seinajoki joins the ranks of the world’s major clubs by forming an electronic sports organization under it’s helm. At the start, the main empahsis will be a team in EA Sports FIFA series, but more genres and franchises will be introduced in the near future.
SJK’s eSports team will play in SJK’s colors of black and gold and with SJK’s logo and will participate in international leagues and tournaments. A similar approach has previously been implemented in soccer by the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Galatasaray, Schalke 04 and FC Copenhagen.
“The launch of the eSports team will strengthen SJK’s position and image in the Finnish sport scene, as pioneers in football and professional sport in general. Our goal is to move a little closer to Europe’s top clubs every year and, even though we might not challenge the likes of Paris SG and Manchester City on the pitch in next few years or so, we have an opportunity is to do so in eSports” commented SJK’s Director of Football, Janne Kotamaki.
“In ten years, SJK Seinajoki has risen from the third tier of Finnish football to become Champions of Finland, and competing in European competitions. So far, we have won everything possible in Finland. eSports offers us a natural continuation of this, and our ambition is to reach the top in electronic sports too” Kotamäki continued.
eSports also offers opportunities for international recognition.
“We believe that we’ll be able to reinforce the notion that SJK Seinäjoki dares to do new things. Potentially this also offers huge possibilities to our clubs partners. The expansion into eSports gives us, and our existing associates, a wider variety of interest groups. And perhaps this will also create new partners” said SJK’s Sales and Marketing manager, Jussi Kankaanpaa.
“We hope that the launch of the eSports team will allow us to reach those people who have not previously followed top-flight Finnish football. Console Gaming (FIFA) and football are a lot closer to each other, contrary to popular perception, and I personally think that the representatives of both sports can learn from each other. Of course our goal is also to increase awareness of e-sports both regionally and nationally” said Kankaanpaa.
The first player announcement in January – more genres coming soon
SJK Seinajoki is forming its eSports team in partnership with the existing eSport organization Rynnakkoviikset, which will now function as a grassroots associate for SJK eSports.
The first signing of the SJK eSports is to be announced in press conference on Monday January 9th. More announcements will be made in January and the following months. We can already reveal that the players will be from top echelons of the eSports world, and the brightest talent in Finland. In addition, the team will have try-out tournaments, where anybody can fight for a place in the team.
At the beginning, the main focus will be on EA’s FIFA football franchise. In the near future, SJK will expand to Blizzard’s Overwatch series. Additional franchises will be decided by the interests of the gamers. SJK eSports will concentrate on emerging genres and franchises with the potential to develop in competitive genres.
“Our grassroots organization, Rynnakkoviikset academy, will bring in variety of players, and all will be battle-proven individuals and teams, who can progress through to SJK eSports” says the team Recruitment Manager Matteus ”Sheizu” Markko, who has served as the professional player with an English eSports organization.
The eSports world is in a phase of strong growth at the moment. Events, as well as the players, attract enormous attention around the world, and the annual earnings of the top players can be measured in hundred thousands of Euros. The global commercial interest in eSports is already far higher than the values of some traditional sports, especially regarding the media rights of eSports events.
“Finland has had great eSports gamers for years, but most of them had to go to play for foreign organizations, where eSports is already at a more advanced level. Well-known Finnish players include JeAx, MATUMBAMAN (Dota 2), Taimou (Overwatch), Allu (CS:GO) and Seinäjoki-born, professional Hearthstone player, Janne ”Savjz” Mikkonen. All of these players have performed worldwide and signed with big international organizations” says SJK eSports manager Pekka Riihimaa.
“It is great that SJK Seinajoki is among the first traditional sports teams to emerge in Finland. While eSports has grown wildly in recent years, it is still in its infancy. It is right to look into what other traditional sports clubs are doing overseas. They’re making exactly the same moves as SJK right now” said Janne “Savjz” Mikkonen.
“I think the FIFA franchise is a really good place for SJK to start from. I’m more in favour of waiting to see how Overwatch, and other games, develop in the eSports industry” Mikkonen said, when consulting on SJK’s eSports extension.
OmaSp Stadion will also be an eSports arena in the future
SJK’s home, the club-owned stadium OmaSp Stadion, will also be a virtual eSports stadium, in the future, hosting events during the winter time. It is an ideal venue for events, offering the latest technology as well as ready-made services.
“During the summer season the football stadium will be filled with football fans, and during the winter season it will serve as Finland’s leading eSports centre. If the City of Seinajoki has been known for its musical traditions (as the home of several big festivals like Provinssi and Tangomarkkinat) then, within a couple of years, I can see Seinajoki being a kind of a nordic capital for eSports. The aim is to provide a gaming experience for professionals and amateurs alike” said SJK eSports event coordinator Mikko Jokipii.
“One major factor in this is the inclusion of all genders and ages, in a way that classic competitive sports do not necessarily achieve. One goal is the prevention of social exclusion through the activation and cooperation of young people” said the head of SJK eSports team player Recruitment, Matteus Markko.
OmaSp Stadion creates the perfect setting to organize a variety of eSports events, and this improves the stadium’s year-round functionality. In eSports the hottest season is from late autumn to early spring, when the Finnish Veikkausliiga is taking a break. The first tournament is to be organized at OmaSp Stadium during Spring 2017, and also serves as a tryout tournament for the SJK eSports team.
Some of SJK’s first team footballers actively play FIFA in their free time, and the future events are an opportunity for fans to challenge them in multiple games.
“I have not competed professionally in eSports myself, but we play online a lot among the players, and I play with my mates specifically via internet” said SJK and Finland National team midfielder, Matej Hradecký.
Hradecký, together with striker Elias Ahde, are the internal FIFA champions of the SJK team. They are even willing to challenge SJK’s eSports team!
“We are ready to challenge all of them. I think that we might even succeed” said Elias Ahde, full of confidence, explaning that the team usually play on long bus trips or when in hotels.
SJK eSport at the SJK Seinajoki’s website:
Contact e-mail for SJK eSport:
Contact e-mail for SJK Seinajoki:
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