The Chinese esports organization Invictus Gaming has signed a sponsorship agreement with Chevrolet. The deal is aimed at promoting the new Chevrolet Tracker SUV, and multiple IG players have already made appearances in Chevrolet commercials.
Considering the age and standing of Chevy, will this deal affect the esports industry?
Raising the bar
Few esports teams could compare to Invictus Gaming. Not only did this organization establish itself as a League of Legends powerhouse with a victory at Worlds 2018, but the one-sided manner in which it won left no doubt as to who’s the best team in the scene. Combine that with a relentlessly aggressive playstyle, and it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that Invictus Gaming is at the peak of its popularity.
Still, if you went back a couple of years, even the best LoL esports teams would have a hard time landing a sponsorship deal with a company like Chevrolet. It’s easy to interpret this as a sign of growth for the entire industry. Yet first impressions can be misleading.
It’s no secret the Chinese LoL scene is bigger than all the other regions combined. Chinese viewers comprise the bulk of LoL esports viewership. It’s largely to their credit that the 2018 World Championship hit 205 million viewers. Chevrolet surely attempts to tap into this market. Throw in the popularity of Invictus Gaming as a brand, and it’s hard to imagine how the car manufacturer could find a better deal in esports.
So will other gaming organizations follow IG’s example?
Probably not. Sure, there are notable exceptions. Royal Never Give Up has signed a partnership with Mercedes-Benz. And Team Liquid is collaborating with Marvel. But generally speaking, esports has yet to reach the scale where such deals seem mundane.
While the industry is growing, the IG-Chevrolet partnership isn’t the best indicator of the moment.