eSports Sponsorship Insight – March 2016

The eSports Sponsorship Insight is a monthly report containing analysis, perspective, and news on the world of eSports sponsorship. The report is published by eSports Group, a leading eSports consulting agency based in Washington, DC. For more info, please visit or contact us here.

Profile | ASUS

This week’s sponsorship profile is on Mario Carmona Chavarría, Marketing Specialist at ASUS, a leading hardware and technology company. ASUS maintains a strong presence in the competitive video game marketplace through a number of marketing, branding and sponsorship channels. Below is a Q&A interview with Mr. Chavarría:

  1. What is your personal background and current role at ASUS?

I’ve been working for ASUS 2 years. I create specific campaigns for Gamers in Spain, such as events, showrooms.

  1. Who is ASUS ROG Army?

ASUS ROG Army is an eSports team owned by ASUS in Spain. We’ve been trying to invest in the business before but the market seemed not to be mature enough. This year the LVP has made a big step and we felt it was time to fully commit with our own team: ASUS ROG Army.

  1. Spain is emerging as a leader in eSports sponsorship. Why is that, in your opinion?

I think there are two main reasons:

  • The Spanish market is getting bigger and is growing at such a fast pace. Everyday there are new players with new needs and likes. Also, there’s a big event each quarter.

  • There are a big organizations building up a community, a scenario, the platform we all know as eSports. The LVP (Professional League of Videogames) is providing attention to players, organizations and even managing the best eSports event in Spain.

  1. What advice would you give to companies beginning to explore eSports sponsorships?

Be curious. Travel to the nearest event in order to learn about the new sport.

  1. eSports sponsorships are dominated by endemic companies, like ASUS, do you see more non-endemics getting involved over the next 12 – 18 months?

Everything is possible in the Gaming/eSports Market, [it] all depends on the public and the current situation. If it continues to grow as before, we may see things we’d never thought of.

  1. What is the ASUS approach to evaluating sponsorship opportunities?

We are always researching new projects, carefully evaluating how feasible and mature the proposals are.

  1. What are your three predictions for the eSports sponsorship marketplace in 2016?

I couldn’t say three predictions but what I really know is that the eSports business will grow four times faster than the video games and during 2016 we will see awesome things that we never thought about.

Strategy | Determining a Market Fit

Airbitz, a mobile Bitcoin wallet company, recently announced the sponsored group of players from an open call for Counter Strike Global Offensive (CSGO) teams. Airbitz purchased naming rights for the team spanning events leading to CEVO Pro Season 10, paid in Bitcoin instead of cash. The San Diego based company’s approach leverages not only naming rights, but also the open sponsorship call, as part of a marketing campaign targeted at the CSGO community. Specifically, Airbitz is positioning its mobile Bitcoin wallet as a solution for a number of immediate needs in the competitive video game space; including: decentralized payment processing, currency-backed transactions, and more. Recognizing the market opportunity for Bitcoin in eSports enabled Airbitz to utilize team sponsorship as vehicle for their product message.

In eSports, the gap in payment processing is driven by a growing “long tail” of small teams, organizations, and enterprises emerging from the domain. These microbusinesses are entrepreneurial efforts based across the globe, and represent an attractive set of prospective customers for an increasing number of products and services. Competitive video games remain a participatory experience, spanning multiple amateur, collegiate and professional levels of play. In addition to watching eSports, audiences are drawn to the opportunity to participate by starting teams, creating content, and contributing to causes, among other things. For sponsors, like Airbitz, true authenticity stems from identifying a gap in the market and positioning a solution through the appropriate marketing channel.

Effective eSports sponsorship must entail a thorough understanding how to target the specific segments (communities) in competitive video games. The inherent fragmentation pervasive in eSports today is both source of chaos and opportunity. In the case of Airbitz, the company identified the CSGO community, with its strong wagering culture, as ideal for their message surrounding Bitcoin payments, despite applicability in other game title circles.  The same can and should be done by other non-endemic companies evaluating eSports sponsorship activation.

Update | March 2016

Amazon takes dive into mobile eSports through a partnership with SK Gaming. Buoyed by last August’s $26 million round of funding raised by parent company Super Evil Megacorp, the Vainglory game title features a rising competitive scene. Amazon stands to benefit from the immediate fit with mobile gaming and its own Appstore, but also the traction created by the rising tide of the Vainglory eSports ecosystem.

Electronic Sports League (ESL) continues non-endemic momentum by bringing home loan bank Wüstenrot as lead sponsor for ESL Meisterschaft.

Beverage brands continue the trend of sponsorship activations in eSports, with Brisk Mate partnering with OpTic Gaming and Hype Energy announcing support of Epsilon eSports’ Halo team. Not to be outdone, Red Bull will host the second edition of its popular Red Bull Kumite next month. While video game culture has long attracted partnership from edgy, energy drink brands, the sport elements of competitive gaming will continue to draw more mainstream varieties into the fray.

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