ESI Super Forum – Understanding sponsorship in esports

02 March 2018


There’s now less than a month to wait until the Esports Insider Super Forum takes place at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge in London on March 22nd. One of the hot topics will be on sponsorship in esports, and exactly how it should (and shouldn’t) be done.

Esports sponsorship is on the rise, which shouldn’t be surprising giving the increasing exposure of esports to the ‘mainstream’ which has had the inevitable repercussion of companies and brands quickly opening their eyes towards the industry. It’s predicted to be worth over $1 billion by 2020 (according to Newzoo) and is a huge source of entertainment for the brand favourite millennial generation, which is exactly why it’s turning heads.

Speaking at the Sponsorship in esports and why brands must play a different game panel – in which there will be six panels throughout the day – are the following:

  • Frederic Weil, Partnerships Manager of Fnatic
  • Tomek Borowka, Esports and Marketing Manager of Super Evil Megacorp

The panel will be moderated by Duncan McMonagle, SVP & GM of Minute Media

The trio will each provide some unique insight on the intersection of sponsorship and esports, providing key do’s and dont’s. Those who work in a company that is interested in esports but hasn’t quite made the leap will should find this panel particularly helpful, acting as something of a blueprint on how to effectively enter the industry.

While some companies – think HyperX, Red Bull, Razer, Intel – have been in the esports for quite some time, sponsorship for teams and players has only sped up over the last few years. Companies that want to get involved in esports aren’t just related to the industry any more: take Liongsate, for example. They’ve just partnered with Overwatch League franchise Los Angeles Valiant to promote the latest series of Ash vs Evil Dead.

Renault has just entered esports too, teaming up with Team Vitality to compete in the Formula 1 Esports Series. Pringles, the crisp brand owned by Kellogg’s sponsored ESL One Hamburg, its first big play in the scene, and then signed a long-term commitment with ESL to ensure it stays in the industry. As you can see, sponsorships are becoming more and more unpredictable, and big brands are making the leap. It’s not just gaming brands who want to invest in the industry now.

Esports sponsorships may be taking a page from traditional sports in other ways too, with localised esports teams now becoming more and more common. The Overwatch League has partnered with organisations to create localised franchises that are tied to their specific cities, so we may just see local sponsors – as we do with lower-league football clubs – becoming the norm. At the recent Esports BAR conference in Cannes, ESL CEO Ralf Reichert commented on the fact that he says localised partnerships becoming a new major source of revenue for teams. 

Over in Australia, Gfinity’s Elite Series is due to start soon, and they’ve gone with the city based approach in a bid to create rivalries, and stories and a closer relationship with a potentially far greater number of fans. The thinking here is that average Joe or Jill may not care about Fnatic vs NiP but they’re far likelier to care about Sydney vs Melbourne . And in turn, the more people that care, the more sponsors will pay attention. 

London Spitfire is reportedly in talks with Tottenham Hotspur, so that shows the scale that these partnerships can reach! Localisation allows for an instant connection between a team and people who inhabit the area they’re representing, so it’s easy to see why local companies may want to get involved with said teams going forward.

Some teams are already well-versed in obtaining partnerships and are home to some of the biggest sponsorships in esports, proving big companies are willing to invest. Fnatic is an ideal example, boasting partnerships with an eclectic set of partners in Deezer, Monster Energy, AMD, and OnePlus.

Another big European org, Astralis, is another with some cool sponsors on board; Audi, Coco Fuzion, Turtle Beach, JACK&JONES and Panzer Glass. 

It’s clear there will be plenty of other amazing sponsorship opportunities in esports when other companies catch wind of the growth the scene is experiencing. If you’re free on March 22nd, and are keen to learn more about this, and mingle with those in the know, consider attending the ESI Super Forum. 

Find out more and secure tickets here.

Reach out to [email protected] with any questions. 

Sponsors and Partners of the ESI Super Forum include Abios, RewardMob, Qwatti eSports Agency, Ali Quantum, and SpecialEffect