- Ajax one of the pioneering teams in the eFootball scene
- "We want to be the best club in eFootball"
- Ajax's eSports history forms part of the #FIFAisLimitless campaign
Founded in 1900, Ajax have a rich history that includes four Champion League triumphs, three of which were won in successive years with club legend Johan Cruyff. The Ajax philosophy has always been to train talented youngsters and give them a chance to make history of their own at the highest level. Ajax eSports followed that same strategy when it launched in 2016 and became one of the first football clubs in the world to sign an eSports player in Koen Weijland. In 2017 they built on their initial success and recruited Dani Hagebeuk, who won the eDivisie with 17 consecutive wins that same year.
"We want to be the best club in eFootball and thrill and inspire young fans all over the world with the Ajax philosophy," said Bart van Essen, Head of Ajax eSports.
A team manager takes care of the players and tries to create a perfect environment for them. Furthermore, a personal coach is responsible for all players and endeavours to improve their performances through nutrition and exercise. "We believe that players who are physically fit play at a higher level on the virtual pitch and maintain much better concentration levels," said Bart van Essen.
In addition to there being an eSports television studio at the Ajax training ground, a gaming console has been set-up for every player at home so that they have ideal conditions to play and train there too.
The Ajax eSports players:
Dani Hagebeuk – Netherlands
Joey Calabro – USA
Bob van Uden – Netherlands/Japan (playing on loan for Japanese football club Sagan Tosu)
All the players are full-time focused on eSports so that they can balance the workload of tournaments and training, as well as having free time. The eSports department consists of eight persons in order to guarantee a professional set-up.
Hagebeuk impressed at a local tournament in the Netherlands, earning himself his Ajax contract in the process. They then signed Calabro from New York City so as to expand their market reach and he now represents the club in America.
Bob van Uden played in the Ajax youth academy alongside Justin Kluivert and Matthijs de Ligt, among others, before deciding to focus on gaming. He is currently on loan at Japanese partner club Sagan Tosu, who he visits regularly and represents at tournaments, while continuing his studies in his home city of Amsterdam.
"He's perfectly suited to our philosophy and, as our youngest player, is one for the future," said van Essen. "We want to win the FIFA eWorld Cup and continue to delight our fans through eSports. We want to inspire young FIFA players to get better and to one day also become professional players."
Recently, Lev Vinken left the team: "Just like in real football, we search for new players to fill the void," said van Essen. "We always try to fulfil several criteria when choosing a new player, because they have to fit in to our philosophy."
The club's DNA is a factor in every decision that is made and the eSports department is eager to use that philosophy to write their own history and one day be able to look back on legends and titles of their own.