Each month, Esports Insider recaps the biggest esports sponsorships and partnerships from the month prior. Below is our list of the biggest partnerships from April 2023.
April 2023 saw several new non-endemic sponsors enter esports for the first time, a positive sign amid worries about shrinking advertising budgets during an economic downturn. Several high-profile sponsors, including Aramco — one of the most valuable companies in the world — the US Army, DC Comics, New Balance and many more.
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North American esports organisation Complexity Gaming has renewed its partnership with the US Army for a fifth consecutive year. The two parties will collaborate on Soldier Shakedown 5, a multi-title esports tournament for active-duty service members.
The US Army and Complexity first partnered in 2019 in a deal that saw the organisation integrate esports into the US Army Installation Command’s Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programme.
European esports organisation G2 Esports has announced a partnership with North American comic book publisher DC Comics. G2 Esports and DC Comics will create a range of themed limited-edition apparel and products.
Joining forces with G2 Esports marks DC Comics’ second activation in the esports industry. In September 2021, the publisher joined forces with FaZe Clan in a deal which saw both parties create a limited-edition comic book containing a number of content creators as superheroes.
The Saudi Esports Federation has unveiled Saudi Arabian energy and chemicals company Aramco as a strategic partner. Aramco will sponsor two esports events: Gamers Without Borders and Gamers8: The Land of Heroes.
Gamers Without Borders is a $10m (~£8m) prize pool esports charity festival that features tournaments across multiple game titles. Gamers8 is a gaming and esports festival with a massive $45m (~£36.33m) prize pool that is hosted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital.
British esports organisation Guild Esports has announced Danish sportswear brand hummel as its latest partner in a £700,000 deal. The partnership, which is expected to last for at least three years, was made possible through SportsPro, the UK licence and rights holder for hummel.
The deal will see hummel provide Guild’s teams with jerseys and other sportswear. Officially, hummel will act as the ‘Technical Kit Partner’ for Guild. The overall value of the sponsorship is £700,000, and the first hummel-branded items will appear online in October 2023.
Esports event organiser and production company BLAST has announced a partnership with three alcoholic beverage brands: Absolut Vodka, Ballantine’s Scotch, and Jameson Irish Whiskey ahead of the upcoming BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023. The partnership will see the three brands create fan and staff activations during the Paris Major, both in the physical and virtual space.
This is the first-ever esports partnership for the three brands, owned by Pernod Ricard, a French conglomerate specialising in the production of spirits and wine. Apart from the three mentioned brands, Pernod is behind Chivas Regal, Havana Club and The Glenlivet.
Gaming platform Rival has teamed up with footwear manufacturer New Balance to create a series of online community-focused tournaments. The tournaments will help provide the community with access to the footwear brand through athletes, ambassadors and exclusive products.
Since its foundation in 2019, Rival has collaborated with a range of traditional sports clubs, bridging the gap between gaming and sports fandoms. New Balance’s involvement in the gaming and esports space has been relatively sparse. However, in 2018 the brand did become a presenting partner of the F1 Esports Series.
The Call of Duty League (CDL) has announced energy drink brand Monster Energy as its latest sponsor. The deal marks CDL’s first sponsorship of 2023 after making a return to Twitch for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 season.
Details on what the sponsorship entails are unknown. Despite this, the arrival of Monster Energy onto the Call of Duty League sponsor portfolio indicates its previous deal with MTN DEW AMP GAME FUEL has come to an end.
The Call of Duty League is now in its third year of competition. In addition to Monster Energy, sponsors include FPS performance and training platform Aim Lab, online eyewear retailer Zenni, and mobile phone brand Sony Xperia.
British esports organisation Guild Esports and cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp have announced the termination of their partnership a year early. The initial deal between the two parties, which was signed in January 2022, was meant to conclude in January 2024.
Despite the termination, Guild Esports claimed in a release that the cancellation would ‘will have no impact’ on its projected revenues. Bitstamp signed the three-year, £4.5m deal with Guild Esports in January 2022. The partnership saw the exchange’s branding appear across the organisation’s digital content in addition to its logo featuring on player jerseys.
German esports organisation BIG has extended its partnership with insurance company BA die Bayerische. Die Bayerische — which means the Bavarian in German — has been a partner of BIG since 2021, with the new agreement lasting through 2024.
The two companies are also expanding the deal’s scope. As well as being a main partner of BIG’s League of Legends team, the insurance company will ‘expand its commitment’ to BIG’s ‘Chroma’ project — an initiative to scout female and non-binary esports talent.
Swedish esports organisation Godsent has announced a partnership with Estonian betting operator Coolbet. Coolbet becomes the main sponsor for Godsent’s CS:GO team as well as the exclusive sportsbook partner of the organisation. Financial details and the duration of the partnership were not disclosed.
Based in Talinn, Estonia, Coolbet was founded in 2016. The company is owned by GAN Ltd and has licences in Malta, Estonia and Sweden. Apart from esports, Coolbet also offers betting on traditional sports such as football, tennis and ice hockey. The partnership with Godsent is one of the first partnerships for the company in the esports space.
UK university esports body National Student Esports (NSE) has announced a partnership with snack brand Pringles for the upcoming British University Esports Championship Finals. Pringles becomes the official partner of the event and will work with NSE on activations during the Insomnia Gaming Festival i70 in early April. Activations will also take place in the weeks following the event.
NSE is a governing body for student esports in the United Kingdom. The organisation’s flagship event, the British University Esports Championship, is one of the country’s largest esports tournament for students. Every season, more than 100 university teams from across the UK participate in the championship in a range of games. The upcoming finals will conclude the Spring season in 2023, with its Winter season being played later in the year.
Korean fried chicken restaurant chain Bonchon has announced a partnership with Overwatch League franchise San Francisco Shock for the 2023 season. Bonchon will be the primary sponsor of San Francisco Shock’s watch parties as a result of the deal.
Whilst exact activations haven’t been revealed, a press release highlights that the deal intends to introduce the restaurant chain to the esports community. This is the first esports partnership from Bonchon, with the company’s Vice President of Marketing Christina Coy mentioning both brands’ passion for South Korean food and culture.
Despite San Francisco Shock being a San Francisco-based franchise and competing in Overwatch League’s Western division, the team’s roster is fully South Korean.