sport news Team Vitality are splashing out huge money on their esports stars

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It was the site of France's victory in the 1998 football World Cup, it has seen countless high profile musical acts, in 2023 it will host the Rugby World Cup final, and in 2024 the Olympic opening ceremony. 

Now, the Stade de France has become the training headquarters of Team Vitality, an esports team which competes professionally across a range of video games. It may seem like an odd fit, but they are looking to the future.

An old VIP lounge is in the process of being transformed into a training and wellness facility for a number of Vitality's professional esports athletes. It will feature three training rooms complete with state-of-the-art technology, as well as a gym, a kitchen, and even a massage room. 

Team Vitality has launched a training facility in the Stade de France and an HQ in Paris

Team Vitality has launched a training facility in the Stade de France and an HQ in Paris

The professional esports players are being given the backing granted to traditional athletes

The professional esports players are being given the backing granted to traditional athletes

Esports teams are becoming more professional, and many now have dedicated facilities

Esports teams are becoming more professional, and many now have dedicated facilities

'Since the Stade de France opened in 1998, we have never had a home team,' says Alexandra Boutelier, CEO of the French national stadium, 'now we do.' 

'We decided to transform a VIP lounge, decreasing our VIP capacity, which means we really do believe in what's going to happen,' says Boutelier. 'We want to make traditional sports converge with esports.'

This is the same route the esports industry has been going in when it comes to performance in the past few years. It used to be the old stereotype of gamers in their bedrooms playing until the early hours of the morning. Nowadays, it's far more professional.  

'If they're going to play games all day, peter out, and cramp up at 25 what's the point?' Says Terry Martin, former professional volleyball player, turned high performance player consultant.

'Why can't they be like Roger Federer and play into their 40s? The esports community believes dexterity starts to dip... Well, what if we trained it? We're investing in these athletes just like any sports team with a developmental academy.'  

The Stade de France's CEO says the stadium now has a 'home team' for the first time ever

The Stade de France's CEO says the stadium now has a 'home team' for the first time ever

The venue, called V.Hive, is a combination of office space, cyber cafe, and merchandise shop

 The venue, called V.Hive, is a combination of office space, cyber cafe, and merchandise shop

Vitality has a physical trainer and a mental strength trainer, both of whom used to train special forces soldiers in the French army. They've swapped to a slightly less high-stakes field these days, but their approach to training is the same. 

Vitality's players have physical training sessions and interviews on a weekly basis about their eating habits for health and performance. Esports pros are the high profile athletes of the future, and Vitality are treating them as such.

Investors have started to take notice at the increased professionalism, too. Vitality has now raised €34million (£29m) in funding from venture fund Rewired.gg in the past year, 'with no end in sight,' according to chief backer, billionaire tech entrepreneur Tej Kohli.

V.Hive will also have a section where teams will be able to come and train for competitions

V.Hive will also have a section where teams will be able to come and train for competitions

'700 million people watch esports... what else do I need to know?' Kohli exclaims. 'What most people don't understand, it's a spectator sport. People think it's children playing, and that's wrong. It's a fast-growing industry, lots of eyeballs, high tech, and it's going to replace mainstream sports in a relatively short period in terms of viewing numbers. For us, investment is a no-brainer.'

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