AS Monaco Rocket League: The Multi-billion-Pound Organisation That Fell Victim To Coronavirus

19:00, 22 Jul 2020

Are Rocket League esports teams just an expendable side project for the multi-billion-pound football organisations that have come and gone? Whilst their love for Rocket League is high, the trials and tribulations behind AS Monaco suggest that the funding for the esports teams play second fiddle to the bigger picture.

(Part 1 looked at the fall of PSG and RCD Espanyol with the insights of former RCD Espanyol manager and Spanish caster Marco ‘Isengard’ Montouto.)

As Monaco entered the Rocket League Esports scene in May 2018, backed by the footballing organisation that finished in second place in Ligue 1, the top division in French football. Backed by owner and businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev, who was worth $6.8 billion as of 2019 (according to Forbes), the footballing organisation sold their most valuable player, Kylian Mbappe, to opulent French rivals, Paris Saint Germain for a monumental fee of €180 million, just months after the esports team formed.

Now one of the wealthiest sporting organisations in the world, AS Monaco’s Rocket League roster consisted of three French players, in Anthony ‘Porto’ Gabriel, Clement ‘Yukiss’ Pardonche and Thomas ‘Ekon’ Chenel. The trio joined various other gamers for AS Monaco, across multiple titles such as FIFA, PES and Fortnite, as they began their adventure into the unknown world of esports.

After failing to break into the professional scene through a number of smaller tournaments, as of 2019, the roster was changed completely, with experienced English talent Jordan ‘EyeIgnite’ Stellon joining Alex ‘Extra’ Paoli and Maik ‘Tigreee’ Hoffmann as the roster that would qualify for the Rocket League Rival Series (RLRS) in Season 8. With Simon ‘s1moN‘ Bicking as coach, AS Monaco stormed through RLRS, wining the Playoffs series and transcending the organisation to the biggest league Rocket League has to offer, the Championship Series (RLCS). 

Despite flunking in the RLCS, failing to win a single tie, of the regular season, their (now) ex-coach s1moN told GGRecon that it wasn’t the results that resulted in AS Monaco departing the scene, but it was one of the richest football teams on the planet allowed the esports team to fall victim to coronavirus.

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Simon 's1moN' Bicking, ex-coach of AS Monaco's Rocket League esports team spoke to GGRecon | Image via AS Monaco

“I would say the results weren't the biggest factor [for AS Monaco disbanding]. I think if we would have stayed together and this f*cking Coronavirus wouldn't have happened we still would have stayed at AS Monaco. Because they really love Rocket League. Another point was Extra, he got the opportunity to go with BDS to stay in the highest class of Rocket League. His potential is huge, and he deserves to stay there.

“One problem was that the football club AS Monaco dropped in short-time work, because of the pandemic. So, the esport team couldn’t provide new contracts and new projects during this time, which is understandable”.

The esports devoted team at AS Monaco couldn’t have been sung higher praises from s1moN, however, which suggests it wasn’t their decision to axe the team, despite the unfortunate results.

“They love Rocket League and we were the tier 1 team at this time, in my opinion. They always watched our series together in the office and the social media team is doing a great job as well.

“With Loic Potage they signed a really good manager. He worked for Envy before and he's very experienced. He helped them a lot with the correct steps to take, and I'm pretty sure they will grow more and more in the next months and years. I want to say thank you again to all the AS Monaco Esports team! They have a bright future in esports and I'm sure they will do great things again soon”.

The esports team clearly have a huge passion for Rocket League, which makes their departure all the more concerning. Despite earning $26,400 for their placement in RLCS Season 9, the club with a billionaire owner couldn’t sustain an esports team with a huge love for the game.

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Dmitry Rybolovlev (second in from the left) with AS Monaco footballer Cesc Fabregas | Image via AS Monaco

AS Monaco aren’t alone in this either, as we discussed in Part One of this series of articles. Paris Saint Germain, another humongous French football side was expended without scope to return, just months after successfully winning DreamHack Valencia, earning $50,000 in the process. The organisations worth, at that time, being a staggering $1.09billion. In comparison, the richest esports organisations within Rocket League at the same time were worth less than half of that, with Cloud9 and TSM being worth roughly $400m.

This begs the question are Rocket League esports teams just an expendable side project for the multi-billion-pound football organisations? Seemingly so.

AS Monaco, even with their Rocket League esports project that was enjoyed by many within the organisation, was the first hit when financial difficulties arose, with their FIFA and PES teams staying firmly put.

s1moN also suggested that with the new RLCS X format, that AS Monaco will return to Rocket League in the future, after the pandemic returns to normality, saying "I'm sure they will return soon, especially with the new RLCS X format!

They have been doing a lot of social media stuff and they want to grow with their own twitch channel. So we helped them as much as we could [whilst we were there]".

With the changes in structure for the RLCS X, and the Olympic Games set to be a huge platform next year, there are plenty of opportunities for huge organisations to come in and be successful in Rocket League Esports, and push the game we love to the next level. However, they will have to learn from the mistakes of others if they want to rival other sporting organisations sides like FC Barcelona. David Beckham's Guild Esports will try and do just that with the esports expertise of executive chairman, Carleton Curtis, paving the way for even more huge organisations to come and get a slice of RLCS X's $4.5m prize pool. The ball is there to be taken.

Part 3 of this in-depth series of articles will focus on the efforts of FC Barcelona, focusing on the comments of El General and the managing team.

Image via AS Monaco

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