Sports stars and video games are a pretty common pairing. Not so common is the part where esports teams start signing sports stars when they’re still playing.
Josh Dugan is currently the serving fullback for the Cronulla Sharks, and a State of Origin representative for New South Wales, although he’s also played in 12 tests for Australia. But as of this week, he’s added a new bullet point to his resume as a sponsored streamer for Australian esports team Mindfreak.
Excited to say that I have joined @Mindfreak as a streamer!
— Josh Dugan (@Josh_Dugan) May 16, 2019
Dugan’s Twitch channel is still pretty fresh. The Cronulla fullback, whose most recent public outreach was a charity drive for a children’s hospice, only has a handful of average viewers per stream, and he’s only streamed just over 15 hours across the past three months with a couple of hundred followers. So far, Dugan’s focused on streaming Fortnite, NBA 2K19, and Call of Duty.
The fact that he’s streaming at all–or that the NRL and the Sharks are OK with him streaming regularly–is neat. Joining an Australian esports team is another thing altogether.
“One of the Mindfreak staff members has helped multiple NRL players with their streams. He knew I was a fan of the Cronulla Sharks, so he introduced me to Josh Dugan and it went from there,” Albert Nassif, the founder of Mindfreak, told Kotaku Australia over email.
“Josh was very eager to represent Mindfreak and is super excited about being [a streamer],” Nassif added, citing Mindfreak’s focus on console esports. “[Dugan] spends most of his time on Rainbow Six: Siege and NBA 2K. We hope to get him to events when he is free of sporting commitments.”
It’s great for sports fans though: they get more intimate access to connect and talk to their favourite stars, and it’s a mechanism for those players to build out connections and fanbases of their own, on their own terms. That’s exciting, and given how many NRL and AFL players are huge fans of Fortnite and games as is, hopefully it’s something we’ll see more of in the future.