The format that mixes soccer pachanga with teams of 7 players and entertainment, broadcast matches through online platforms with innovative rules.
“All sports have to go to entertainment. The new generations want change, they don’t want 90-minute games. They want things that are much shorter and more exciting. There are ideas that emerge and others that arise.” For Gerard Piqué, the Kings League marks the way forward for the world of sport and its conception as entertainment. The former Barça player brought together 92,522 people at Camp Nou to live the Final Four of this project that mixes pachanga football and a good dose of ‘show’ created by the now entrepreneur together with the streamer Ibai Llanos. According to the organizers the final of the competition was followed by 2.1 million viewers on Twitch, YouTube and TikTok.
Piqué also earns, and how. The tournament has not stopped breaking attendance records since it began on January 1, the day on which the first day was held in a large warehouse located in the port of Barcelona,in one of its five areas: the Free Zone. The structure hides an artificial grass pavilion with bleachers, cabins for the streamers who preside over each team, a VAR (Video Assistant Referee) room and locker rooms. Outside there is a production room where the signal from 14 cameras is captured, including the one which the referee carries on his body, and from which it is issued for Kings League Twichwhich hosts an average of views for each game of more than half a million viewers, peaking at two million when Ronaldinho he was invited to play with one of the teams.
A ‘draft’ like in the NBA
To understand this other way of looking at soccer, which is popular among young people, it is necessary to know that It’s a real competition with seven players per team organized by the company Kosmoswhose leader is Gerard Piqué and his right arm, Oriol Querol, general director of the company.
Most of the players come from the lower divisions of Catalan football and before reaching this league they were chosen in an NBA-style ‘draft’: A selection process in which 8,000 candidates sought to join the teams, with a final selection of 120 players. Others had already experienced successful honey during their professional days. Because athletes who hung up their boots some time ago also play in the competition, such as Ricardo López, Alberto Bueno, Agüero, Iker Casillas, Ibai Gómez, Javier Saviola, Sergio García, Joan Capdevila, Joan Verdú or Mantovani.
The Power of the Audience
Matches are played on Sundays and last 40 minutes, divided into two halves of 20. It is contested by 12 teams presided over by some of the greatest creators of Spanish-speaking content on the planet, which is why, in addition to the strictly sporting aspect, there is a powerful relationship with online platforms, where not only the competition is followed live, but also the interactions between them, with the controversies of each day.
What is more involve the public to decide the rules of the game through the nets, very different from what we are used to seeing in this sport. For example if there is a tie, the winner is decided in the midfield penalty shootout; kick-off is the same format as water polo, and teams have five ‘secret weapons’: cards that make up the main dynamic element of the tournament and that can change everything in a game. They can only be drawn once during the game, and hide multiple options: penalty in favor of the team that takes the penalty (including the presidents), goal with double value in the next two minutes of game, exclusion of a rival player to choose during the same period, wild card, card draw (comes into play to take the opponent’s weapon when both serve at the same time) or ‘shootout’, which has the same mechanics as penalties, in which the kickers drive the ball from the center circle and must kick without entering the area.
The main source of income of this competition, having no economic support from television rights or box office revenue for not selling in-person tickets, are the sponsorships. It has a main one, InfoJobs, and another that gives its name to the pavilion in which it plays, Cupra. Other major brands such as Xiaomi, Adidas, Grefusa, Spotify, Mahou or McDonalds have joined the project and already count towards more than a dozen the companies they work with.