Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney turned his hand to gaming on Monday when he officially opened Ireland’s first professional e-sports training centre, the WYLDE Academy, in Cork.
WYLDE esports, co-owned by Usain Bolt, competes in major e-sports tournaments globally, and the academy is a high performance centre for national and international professionals to train, powered by Virgin Media superfast broadband.
“There is such a high level of expertise, commitment and professionalism required to compete and win globally in the world of esports,” said Minister Coveney.
“These WYLDE players are a new generation of talented and ambitious professionals mentored by the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt. It is wonderful to see such global ambition in the world’s fastest growing sport from an indigenous Irish company.”
David Cronin, co-founder of WYLDE, said: “The opening of the WYLDE Academy is another step in our journey towards ensuring that Ireland is at the forefront of professional esports internationally.
“Sponsors like Virgin Media and Puma have made it possible for us to create a training base in Cork for some of the world’s best talent. This country has an opportunity to create significant employment in the area of gaming and esports for future generations.”
Paul Higgins, vice president of commercial at Virgin Media, said: “Virgin Media recognise the audiences, engagement rates and growth of gaming and esports across the globe.
“Our strategic partnership with WYLDE ensures that we are supporting the development of Irish esports as we align with Ireland’s first professional esports academy.”
The WYLDE Rainbow Six Siege team now competes in Ubisoft’s top tier European League (EUL) following a rapid ascent.
Last year WYLDE won the EU Gamers Without Borders Championship securing a $250,000 donation to UNICEF and went on to the global semi-final of the $2m Gamers 8 tournament in Saudi Arabia, beating former world champions Space Station Gaming along the way.
WYLDE then went on to win Ubisoft GSA Grand Final Trophy in Germany, and it also fields international teams in Riot Games Valorant, EA’s FIFA and Psyonix’s Rocket League.
The company recently unveiled Puma as its official kit sponsor globally in what was described as a “significant” multi-year sponsorship deal.
Photo: (l-r) David Cronin, co-founder of WYLDE; Summer Thompson, WYLDE player; Paul Higgins; Simon Coveney, and Steve Daly co-founder of WYLDE. (Pic: Gerard McCarthy)