International fighting game community (FGC) event Evolution Championship Series (EVO) has announced a partnership with American beer brand Bud Light NEXT.
Bud Light NEXT will sponsor the tournament and host a lounge for attendees to try samples of the zero-calorie carbon neutral beer.
Bud Light is no stranger to sponsoring esports organisations. The brand previously cracked open partnerships with UK-based esports organisation Fnatic in 2020 and Multinational organisation Team Liquid in 2021.
Sponsoring EVO, however, is a different kind of commitment. The tournament is the largest and longest-running fighting game tournament in the world. Sponsorship by North America’s largest beer brand is another step towards pushing the FGC into the mainstream. The sponsorship of the Las Vegas event is also significant for Anheuser-Busch, the beer behemoth that produces Budweiser and Bud Light NEXT.
The EVO sponsorship represents an attempt to consolidate brand perception among a flagging young male demographic with Bud Light NEXT. The beer was released just this year and is the only non-endemic sponsor of EVO announced thus far.
Bud Light Next’s rush to appeal to younger consumers hasn’t stopped with EVO. It partnered with the recent finals of League of Legends’ LCS in Dallas by buying all the electricity from renewable sources. The beer itself is carbon neutral and even features its own line of NFTs.
EVO 2022 will take place from August 5th-7th this year, and features well-known fighting games such as Skullgirls, Tekken 7, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and others.
It will be the first EVO tournament to not feature Smash. Sony acquired the fighting game competition last year, which may have been behind Nintendo’s decision to look elsewhere to host Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. Melee competitions.