Sponsorship means presence and impact. Sponsorship was, is, and will always be one of the best strategies for businesses to create brand awareness and make themselves known among the general public, reaching people and delivering their message whenever the opportunity shows up. Sports business growth is strictly related to its increasing number of followers, the power that they have to grab the attention of fans, both nationally and internationally, and its great opportunity to monetize its exposure. Worldwide teams and sporting institutions have experienced how their activity can attract the interest of local and multinational companies, which take advantage of the entertainment that those entities provide to place their logo in the minds of those that enjoy watching. Sponsorship examples are everywhere, and they have become the primary source of revenue for any sport-related organization right after television broadcasting rights. Also, it is, like during the Super Bowl, something that creates such expectation in society that even non-football lovers sit on the couch to watch.
The world of electronic sports is no different from the rest. Nowadays, more and more companies are showing interest in being linked to these “video games teams” with an increasing fan base. According to Gamedesigning.org, the market valuation of E-sports is expected around $2.3 billion by the end of 2022, a figure that represents how rooted this industry is in today’s world. Large multinational companies are conscious about its growth and potential, and the increment of the money invested in sponsorship opportunities is just the tip of the iceberg. Brands that used to link their logo to conventional sports are now part of this new scenario, and it only takes paying attention to the main international e-sports competition to realize which decided to take the shot. T-Mobile, a German telecommunication company, and Mobil 1, a Texas-based oil and gas company, have multiple things in common, but the one that stands out most contextually is that they are the major sponsors of two different E-sports championships; Overwatch in the case of T-Mobile and Rocket League in Mobil 1’s.
Professional E-sports teams do have, as it was expected, their own sponsors. For those of you that have never seen a competitive e-sports jersey, one of the biggest challenges is to count how many brand names it contains. In some cases, there is barely space to place another logo or name; it might sound crazy, but every inch of that piece of clothing is genuinely worth the buck. Looking at the game day gear of two teams from different world regions, Cloud 9 from North America, and G2 from Europe, you can easily spot recognizable companies such as Microsoft, Redbull, AT&T, Puma, Logitech, and BMW. Back in the day, technological enterprises were the ones that logically had more “urge” or reasons to closing sponsorship deals with e-sports organizations. However, nobody wants to miss the opportunity nowadays.
E-sports sponsorships have even sneaked into the collegiate level, and programs like at the University of California-Irvine, currently ranked top five in the nation, are, as they mentioned in their website, “proudly sponsored” by iBuyPower, Logitech, and Mountain Dew AMP Game Fuel. However, it is not just a thing that happens in big schools like that, because at Greenville University, the E-sports program currently has a sponsorship relationship with four entities. According to B.J. Fink, GU E-sports Head Coach, “The program is being sponsored by Gravity Gaming (game stations/computers), Mountain Dew Game Fuel (gaming beverage), Solar Bat (gaming glasses), and Persona.io (presenting sponsor).” When asked about the possibility of having more sponsors, Coach Fink highlighted that the program is “still looking,” and that there are some companies that could be reached out.
Sponsors are just another aspect and critical element that shows E-sports growth, whose reaches have turned them into an undoubted marketing tool that represents the beginning of something greater than we can imagine. Sponsors are there for a reason, and as the saying goes, “There is no smoke without fire.”