“Sponsor Spotlight” is a monthly series here at Esports Insider that will highlight some of the top sponsorship or partnership stories from the previous month on ESI. The main aim of the series is to highlight some of the biggest things happening in esports, be those new non-endemic partnerships, long-term investments or extensions of major deals.
April was a month in which we saw two major esports brands receive a wealth of celebrity investment as OverActive Media, the holding company of Splyce and the Toronto Defiant announced Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye had invested. Gen.G announced a huge investment lead by Will Smith and Keisuke Honda among many others. Then to change things up, our first story will focus on DreamHack’s recent streaming partnership with Caffeine.
DreamHack enters global streaming partnership with Caffeine
Streaming is a crucial part of esports, with platforms such as Twitch, Caffeine, YouTube or Huya and Douyu in Asia. These services officer fans access to a wealth of esports content for free (with ad support) and we’ve seen huge streaming deals in the past few years, with the Overwatch leagues Twitch deal a standout.
DreamHack has picked up such a deal itself as it signs on with New Fox co-owned streaming service Caffeine. The deal will see all Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 events from DreamHack livestreamed on the platform, alongside a new show titled ‘Overtime’ which debuted with DreamHack Open Rio de Janeiro.
Speaking at the time, Ben Keighran, Founder and CEO of Caffeine had this to say: “We are giving viewers a better way to experience DreamHack’s CS:GO and Dota 2 events. With our real-time video platform, DreamHack fans will now be able to experience these events as if they’re in the arena and with their friends online.”
The Weeknd invests in the parent company of Splyce and Toronto Defiant
Celebrity investments have become almost a category of there own, especially when it comes to this monthly feature. This month will feature two separate instances of such an investment with our first focusing on OverActive Media’s recent investment by Grammy-winning singer Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye who joins the companies ownership group.
Speaking at the time, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye had this to say: “As a big esports fan, I am really excited to be involved in this project. I am looking forward to collaborating with OverActive Media in unique and innovative ways.”
OverActive Media is the holding company of esports side Splyce and its Overwatch League franchise Toronto Defiant.
Chris Overholt, CEO and President of OverActive Media also spoke about the news: “We are thrilled to be welcoming a global superstar like Abel to our investor family. Abel’s standing in the music industry will provide our Toronto Defiant and Splyce brands the opportunity to reach more fans and engage new audiences.”
Will Smith invests as Gen.G announce $46m funding round
Our second entry in the celebrity investment trend comes in the form of the Fresh Prince himself Will Smith and Japanese football player Keisuke Honda. Gen.G also received investment from LA Clippers Dennis Wong, Michael Zeisser, and MasterClass Co-Founder and CEO David Rogier. The team also received investment from a number groups including New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Conductive Ventures, Battery Ventures, Canaan Partners, SVB Capital, and Stanford University.
Gen.G will use the capital gained from this funding round to continue to support the ongoing expansion of the teams global brand. The team recently opened a new HQ in Seoul (pictured above) and invested heavily in Los Angeles with its HQ there due to open in July 2019. The team also invested in a new gaming initiative in 2018 after they hired Twitch streamer Kristen “KittyPlays” Valnicek as the head of the new initiative.
Speaking at the time, Chris Park, CEO of Gen.G had this to say: “We are grateful for the support of a remarkable group of investors that is as diverse as the future of esports itself. Our partners in this round share Gen.G’s mission to reimagine sports entertainment as only an authentically global esports organisation can.”