NFL’s JuJu Smith-Schuster Launches Gaming Org Team Diverge
JuJu Smith-Schuster of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers has launched his own gaming team called Team Diverge. This comes after nearly two years of being in and around the gaming space, including in collaborations with FaZe Clan and others.
Team Diverge claims to be the world’s first athlete-led gaming entertainment and lifestyle company. The company will “live at the intersection of sports, gaming, and culture, cultivating creative content and unique fan experiences leveraging our unique roster of crossover talent,” according to the team’s press release.
The organization has been actively working to expand their roster, but is keeping their prospective signings close to the chest for now. They seem to be focused on building up gamers, both content creators and esports stars, as personalities.
JuJu Wants to Build a Platform for Gamers
Unlike a lot of other athletes who use their celebrity to enter a new space, JuJu Smith-Schuster says that this gaming team isn’t about him – it’s about empowering creators to build their own platforms using his celebrity as a boost.
“In creating my own organization instead of joining one of the big established ones, I know I chose a different path than most in my position would do,” JuJu Smith-Schuster, Founder and CEO of Team Diverge said. “I’m not just trying to be a popular figure in gaming for myself; I’m trying to build a special organization that is a platform for others.”
Schuster also spoke about the name of the organization and how it ties back into his football roots.
“The name Team Diverge means a lot to me,” Schuster continued. “We’re aiming to move in a different direction of ordinary gaming organizations, we’re trying to be unique in how we operate. The initials also are “TD”, a sign of the football side of me.”
The organization will recruit several athletes, musicians, and celebrities to help drive the broader content and events strategy for the team, as well as for the rising and crossover talent in gaming. Other orgs, like NRG, have had this same approach for years, but they are led by a sports executive (Andy Miller) rather than an athlete themselves.
“The gaming community has grown immensely in recent years. You’ve seen collaborations with athletes in traditional sports with these popular gaming organizations, but to some degree, they have become stale and repetitive,” Karan Gill, Co-Founder, and Chief Operating Officer said. “TD is going to take athlete involvement in gaming to a completely different level. These guys won’t just be ambassadors or honorary members, they are going to be centerpieces to the team’s identity.“
Game House and More For the Future
The organization is looking to launch a Team Diverge Gaming House in Spring 2021 that will serve as a content hub for the Diverge roster of endemic and crossover talent. Schuster is likely taking inspiration from the FaZe Clan model, as he lived in their content house with top gaming creators for a time. Schuster’s personal YouTube channel sits at over a million subscribers, so he’s no stranger to building a fanbase and following.
During the NFL offseason, JuJu will house crossover talent and TD gaming creators who would live and train in a gaming house for 3 months, with the goal of creating as much content as possible. This amount of crossover potential is said to be immense and could expose millions of NFL fans to gaming culture.
“His unwavering commitment to building this brand, and helping position other passionate gamers and content creators in the space grow, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in a crossover talent. While football is clearly his main focus, whenever he’s not training or studying film, gaming and Team Diverge are on his mind. He’s pretty much endemic at this point,” adds Chris Toussaint, Account Director at Zoned Gaming. “People tend to forget that he was right there with Ninja, Drake, and Travis Scott in one of the most iconic moments and inflection points in gaming. JuJu’s for real and Team Diverge should not be slept on.”
The organization will be announcing its talent roster at a later date, but with someone who was right there alongside Ninja and Drake when they shattered viewership records in the middle of the night on Twitch, it will be interesting to see how the gaming public takes to the new organization.