Usain Bolt co-owned Wylde opens new e-sports academy in Cork

5 Oct 2022

Usain Bolt. Image: Wylde

Wylde is looking to give Ireland’s e-sports space a boost and its new academy will support ongoing player development.

Irish e-sports company Wylde has opened a first-of-its-kind e-sports academy in Cork, which is set to host a range of national and international events in coming months.

The academy is based in Cork’s Republic of Work co-working hub. It aims to support ongoing developments in player performance and best practice coaching in Ireland, with events such as FIFA training sessions and a Rainbow Six Siege bootcamp in the pipeline.

Wylde was founded two years ago by Steve Daly, a former investment banker at JP Morgan, and David Cronin, former president and chief executive of the American Ireland Funds. Cronin was also previously chief operations officer of Qumas, the Cork-based software firm that was sold for $50m in 2013.

Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt got involved earlier this year, joining the company as its co-owner. Bolt, who is an avowed video game fan, is working with Wylde’s leadership team to help players reach their potential and take care of their physical and mental wellbeing.

Based in Dublin, the company is tapping into the growing world of e-sports and currently has teams competing in tournaments and leagues for the games Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant, Rocket League and FIFA.

The opening of its new academy was announced as part of a partnership between Wylde and Virgin Media, which will provide the site with 1Gbps broadband, among other services.

“Our most recent research goes on to show just how prolific gaming is amongst the Irish public with a growing number of gamers looking to play online, highlighting the importance of a fast and reliable internet connection,” said Paul Higgins, vice-president of commercial at Virgin Media.

The rise of e-sports in Ireland

E-sports is predicted to attract 1bn worldwide viewers by 2025 and the amount of prize money to be earned from e-sports is expected to reach more than $540m globally next year.

It’s also a growing business in Ireland. Earlier this year, League of Legends maker Riot Games opened an e-sports broadcast centre in Dublin as part of plans to revolutionise global gaming events.

Science Foundation Ireland’s Lero research centre also opened the country’s first e-sports research lab in 2019, designed to study the performance of amateur and professional e-sports players. Lero recently teamed up with Nvidia on a project to help gamers improve their chances of winning e-sports prize money.

According to a recent Virgin Media survey of 1,000 adults in Ireland, 53pc game regularly. This figure rose to 75pc for people aged between 18 and 34.

Bolt said the Virgin partnership would be a great fit for gamers around the country, “providing a competitive edge and supporting their development as players”.

“I am so excited to be part of the fastest-growing sport in the world, e-sports, through Wylde,” Bolt added.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic