The boom of esports in Brazil

. Aug 05, 2019
esports brazil

Welcome back to the Brazil Sports newsletter! The international transfer window came to a close last week and we take a look at the biggest moves made by Brazil’s clubs. The Copa Libertadores last 16 ties were concluded in a positive week for domestic sides, and we delve into the world of esports in Brazil. All that, and much more. Happy reading!

The ins and outs of the international transfer window

Back in 2011–2012, Brazilian football enjoyed a short but sweet period of prosperity. The currency was strong, sponsorships were keen on getting a slice of the game, and Brazil’s clubs had more money to spend than ever. Santos had the cash to convince Neymar to sign a new contract and ward off Barcelona, Flamengo signed Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Botafogo managed to bring in Clarence Seedorf. Squads were strong and the football was exciting.

However, as the country’s economy began to slow down, before diving into a long recession, the effects were clear on the domestic football league. Lucrative sponsorships were harder to find, and clubs were less prolific in transfers, no longer able to compete for big names.

This year’s international transfer window has come as some relief, then, with a number of quality players making their way to the Brazilian league. We look at who did what:

Reigning champions Palmeiras made waves by signing former Chelsea and Brazil national team midfielder Ramires. At 32, there are perhaps concerns about how astute the club has been in handing him a four-year contract, but Ramires’ natural fitness and conditioning has always been a big part of his game, leading many to believe he still has a good few years left in him.

Elsewhere, the club brought in center-forward Luiz Adriano from Spartak Moscow. The striker grabbed the headlines in the early 2010s for his Champions League performances for Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of scoring nine goals in a group stage in 2014. He had an underwhelming spell at AC Milan before returning to form at Russian side Spartak Moscow.

Rio de Janeiro side Flamengo also grabbed headlines with their transfer business, bringing in Brazil’s reserve left-back Filipe Luis from Atlético Madrid, and fellow national team full-back Rafinha, from Bayern Munich.

Their marquee transfer, however, was in repatriating Roma’s 22-year-old playmaker Gerson, in a deal worth BRL 49.7m. This was the largest fee ever paid for a Brazilian player by a Brazilian club, with only Argentinian Carlos Tévez (BRL 60.5m) and Uruguayan De Arrascaeta (BRL 63.7m) costing more.

While not technically making any purchases on the international transfer market, we cannot ignore the business carried out by São Paulo this month. The club picked up two huge names who were out of contract at their clubs in Europe. Daniel Alves, who led Brazil to the Copa America title this year (and won best player in the process), and Atlético Madrid legend Juanfran.

On one hand, the deals make little sense: both of them play in the same position (right-back) and are in the twilight of their careers, but they are set to serve as huge signings for the club.

First of all, it is believed that Dani Alves will not play in his traditional right-back position in Brazil (freeing up the spot for Juanfran). He is expected to be pushed further forward, as either a winger or classic number 10 playmaker.

Dani Alves is also a huge personality, the likes of which Brazilian domestic football sorely needs among its ranks. He brings with him proven quality on the pitch, as well as interest from abroad, with some 27.5m Instagram followers.

Brazil has the third-highest number of esports fans

By Martha Castro

The Brazilian esports market has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years and in 2019, there were 9.2 million esports fans in the country. Only the U.S. (22.4m) and China (75m) outstrip Brazil, according to a study by New Zoo, a consulting agency specialized in the game and mobile market. In fact, 13 percent of Brazil’s online community watches video game-related content.

Esports encompasses competitions using video games that can be played individually and in teams. The most popular esports games include League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In Brazil, an event dedicated to Counter-Strike competitions attracted 15,000 fans. Brazil’s most attended esports event to date hosted an audience of 35,000 people. 

Brazilian esports is expanding each year. In fact, the number of fans that watch esports content more than once a month is expected to reach 12.6 million by 2021, according to the New Zoo study.

Esports revenue is also drastically increasing. A large percentage of this revenue is generated by brand investment, in other words, media rights, advertising, and sponsorships. In 2018, Brazilian esports had 10 sponsors, including Tinder, Monster Energy and Vivo, Brazil’s largest telecommunications company. The country’s esports community has also guaranteed major media deals with Facebook, Twitter, and SporTV, the biggest sports channel in Brazil. 

A considerable part of the esports appeal is watching skilled professionals compete, which has culminated into a selection of Brazilian esports heroes. The top Brazilian esport player is Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, who has earned a total of USD 781,000 in events. YoDa is the top Brazilian streamer, reaching 1.1million followers on Twitch, a live streaming video platform commonly used in esports. 

Esports have been drawing several connections to traditional sports. In 2001, an esports club was founded in Brazil and it now holds the world’s largest League of Legends trial. Similar to traditional sports clubs that hold entry trials, the CNB Esports Club also holds trials for their virtual teams. 

Esports have attracted the attention of Flamengo, a major sports clubs in Brazil. In 2017, Flamengo established its own esports division, creating a League of Legends roster and a training facility. The famous football player Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” also invested in esports, developing a team that competes in FIFA, League of Legends and Arena of Valor. 

At the beginning of July, a Senate committee on Education, Culture, and Sports approved a law that regulates esports in Brazil, as it does with other traditional sports. The law was met with some resistance from senators.

Senator Leila Barros is a retired volleyball player who spoke out against regulating esports as a traditional sport. Ms. Barros said that many traditional athletes sacrifice a lot for their sport, and insinuated that esports players don’t do the same. Moreover, she criticized the violent nature of many esports games such as Mortal Kombat 11. 

“Volleyball and football [have] competition, not guns or bullets,” she said, in reference to the presence of firearms in the video games. 

The law was approved because the Committee of Education, Culture and Sports saw esports as an employment opportunity for athletes who have their careers cut short by injuries. Moreover, the law plans to promote collaboration between players through esports teams and educational training, said Eduardo Gomes, the rapporteur of the bill.

The final shot…

Copa Libertadores. The last 16 ties of the Copa Libertadores came to a close last week in what was an overall successful showing for Brazilian sides. Four domestic clubs made it through to the next phase, in what was the best result for Brazil since the start of the decade. Flamengo managed to overturn a 2-0 loss in their away leg against Emelec and squeezed through on penalties, while Palmeiras, Grêmio, and Internacional brushed aside their foreign opposition. However, the four will face off against one another in the quarter-finals, with Grêmio taking on Palmeiras and Flamengo playing Internacional. 

libertadores 2019 brackets

Série A. Santos continued their superb form with a thumping 6-1 win over Goiás on Sunday morning. They extended their lead at the top of the table to four points with Palmeiras drawing the clássico away to Corinthians. Elsewhere, Flamengo were trounced 3-0 away to Bahia, while Atlético-MG came out on top in the Belo Horizonte derby, beating Cruzeiro 2-0 at home.

FIFA Best Awards. FIFA announced the shortlists for their annual Best awards, selecting the top players and managers in both men’s and women’s football. In a damning admonishment of the Brazilian game, only one Brazil representative made the list across all categories. Men’s national team boss Tite was the lucky one, with his Copa America title earning him a nomination for Best Manager. For the men’s game, there was no sign of Neymar, Roberto Firmino, or Alisson, while reigning women’s champion Marta was also left off the shortlist.

Cris Cyborg. 34-year-old MMA fighter Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Venâncio saw out the end of her UFC contract with a resounding win over Felicia Spencer last week, and called out UFC President Dana White and long-time announcer Joe Rogan for alleged “bullying” during her time in the organization. In a tweet directed at Mr. White and Mr. Rogan, she declared that “every woman deserves the right to go to work in an environment free of sexual harassment, online bullying, and workplace intimidation.” She is now expected to sign with rival promotion Bellator.

Goal of the Week

This week’s golaço comes courtesy of Paulinha, of women’s Série A side Iranduba. Picking the ball up in midfield, she juggles it expertly before launching a looping volley (with her weaker left foot) over the goalkeeper and into the net. In Brazil, there is talk of the strike being put forward for FIFA’s annual Puskás Award.


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Copa Libertadores

  • Cruzeiro 0-0 River Plate (2-4 on pens)
  • Palmeiras 4-0 Godoy Cruz
  • Internacional 2-0 Nacional
  • Flamengo 2-0 Emelec (4-2 on pens)
  • Boca Juniors 2-0 Athletico-PR
  • Libertad 0-3 Grêmio

Série A

  • Santos 6-1 Goiás
  • Bahia 3-0 Flamengo
  • Atlético-MG 2-0 Cruzeiro
  • Corinthians 1-1 Palmeiras


Copa Libertadores

  • Cruzeiro 0-0 River Plate (2-4 on pens)
  • Palmeiras 4-0 Godoy Cruz Internacional 2-0 Nacional
  • Flamengo 2-0 Emelec (4-2 on pens)
  • Boca Juniors 2-0 Athletico-PR
  • Libertad 0-3 Grêmio

Série A

  • Santos 6-1 Goiás
  • Bahia 3-0 Flamengo
  • Atlético-MG 2-0 Cruzeiro
  • Corinthians 1-1 Palmeiras
Euan Marshall

Originally from Scotland, Euan Marshall is a journalist who ditched his kilt and bagpipes for a caipirinha and a football in 2011, when he traded Glasgow for São Paulo. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, he authored a comprehensive history of Brazilian soccer entitled “A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.”

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