Key esports sponsorships & partnerships you should know about

Posted on April 13, 2021 - Last Updated on April 14, 2021

Esports, like many traditional sports, is reliant on the money brought in by sponsorships and branding partners. It is unlikely that the esports industry would be where it is today without the influence of sponsorships and partnerships.

As much as the average person may not even notice the vast array of advertisers in the esports industry, if you were keeping track, you would find that it has changed significantly in the past few years.

For a long time, the only companies interested in esports sponsorships were already related to video games, high-end technology, or the general gaming scene. Now that esports has moved beyond their humble beginnings, they have millions of fans all around the world. Suddenly advertising with them doesn’t sound too bad.

This article should help you keep track of some of the biggest, most interesting, and important esports sponsorships in history.

Top 5 Most Recent Sponsorships

RankingThe Latest Esports Sponsorships
#1Enthusiast Gaming & TikTok
#2PSG Esports & Betway
#3Riot Games & Alienware
#4ESL & 1xBet
#5BLAST Premier & Coinbase

1. Enthusiast Gaming and TikTok

ByteDance, the parent company of popular social media app TikTok is getting serious about entering the gaming and esports ecosystem. Just last month they announced a partnership with Enthusiast Gaming, the largest gaming media platform in North America and the United Kingdom.

esports sponsorships

As part of their deal, partnership activations will be rolled out across their platforms. They will have product, logo placement, and promotional activity with Luminosity Gaming influencers, social media, and an upcoming video series microsite. They will also include video production of launch teasers and custom promo video content to be broadcast on Luminosity Gaming’s Twitch account, social media channels, and Enthusiast Gaming media properties.

2. PSG Esports and Betway

You can’t talk about esports sponsorships without bringing up esports betting sites. This month, April 2021, PSG Esports, the gaming division of French football club Paris Saint-Germain announced that they extended and expanded their partnership with sports and esports-focused betting operator Betway.

The extension of their partnership agreement will make Betway the official principal partner for PSG.LGS. This is a DOTA 2 esports team that is operated in partnership between PSG Esports and the Chinese organisation LGD Gaming. Betway will also become the overall official betting partner of the esports franchise.

3. Riot Games and Alienware

This is not the beginning of a major esports partnership, instead, it is the end of one. After allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment surfaced about Riot Games CEO, Nicolo Laurent, Alienware terminated its global esports partnership. This was 10 months before the scheduled end of the partnership, and it means that one of their biggest advertisers for League of Legends esports is no longer affiliated with Riot Games. Alienware cited their concerns about the public image of Riot Games after a slew of similar controversies in the past few years and the current allegations about their CEO.

4. ESL and 1xBet

ESL Gaming inked a new exclusive partnership with the world-leading betting operator 1xBet. They will become the first-ever exclusive global betting partner of the ESL Pro Tour CS:GO and ESL One Summer and Winter Dota 2.

esports-sponosrships

This partnership is set to run for the entirety of 2021 and will end after IEM Katowice 2022. They have planned brand placements across ESL Pro Tour and ESL One properties as well as a series of branded activations across their year-long partnership. Planned innovations will include bringing special custom segments such as data-driven player impact cards, match predictions, and custom maps throughout the year in both CS:GO and Dota 2 broadcasts.

5. BLAST Premier and Coinbase

Coinbase announced that they are sponsoring the current BLAST Premier spring season, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive esports tournament. This marks the first time that the cryptocurrency exchange has entered the world of esports.

coinbase Sponsors Blast Premier

The aim of the partnership and sponsor deal is to help bring the world of esports and gaming closer to cryptocurrency through integrated digital activations and player-led content. The branding will focus on BLAST Premier’s “The Economy Play” broadcast segment. Making sure that you spend your cash wisely is a major part of CS:GO. “The Economy Play” sees analysts dissect and discuss economy rounds in between key matches. It will take a serious look at the way that the pro gamers decide to spend their money in between rounds.

The biggest esports sponsorships

RankingThe Biggest Esports Sponsorships
#1Team Liquid & Marvel
#2Mercedes-Benz & ESL & Riot Games
#3ESL & Mountain Dew
#4BMW & multiple esports teams
#5Overwatch League & IBM

1. Team Liquid and Marvel

Last year, Marvel and Team Liquid extended their partnership until 2022 and launched a co-branded merch collection. Their initial partnership began in the summer of 2019 and it marked the first time Marvel entered the esports arena. The partnership debuted at Rift Rivals: North America vs Europe, during which Liquid wore Captain America-inspired jerseys that displayed both the Team Liquid and Avengers logo. After a successful year of branded clothing, activations, and sponsorships between the two companies they decided to extend their relationship. The announcement was paired with the release of a new merch line, the Marvel Retro Collection.

2. Mercedes-Benz and ESL & Riot Games

Mercedes-Benz is one of the biggest vehicle manufacturers in the world of esports. They entered the industry earlier than many other companies relative to their size and connection to the industry.

They first began to take an interest in esports in 2017 when they became a partner of ESL, one of the largest esports companies in the world. In 2018 they took that partnership further by becoming the global ESL mobility partner.

esports sponsorships

2020 was their biggest year to date for esports, the company became the exclusive automotive partner of all global League of Legends Esports events of Riot Games – the Mid-Season Invitational, Worlds, and the All-Star Event.

3. ESL and Mountain Dew

Way back in 2016, ESL and the popular soda Mountain Dew entered into a major partnership together. As part of their agreement, they created the Mountain Dew League for CS:GO. Their initiative is aiming to give up-and-coming teams a shot at glory to participate in the Pro League, the world’s top CS:GO competition.

They have been operating together for five years but their esports partnership is currently up in the air. There have been some allegations of match-fixing in ESL’s Mountain Dew League. According to an interview with Esports Integrity Commission commissioner Ian Smith, a select group of players in ESL’s Mountain Dew League were being bribed by organized “betting syndicates” in an effort to turn a profit through games where they knew the outcome in advance. It is likely that the league will return but it may be in a diminished form.

4. BMW and multiple esports teams

This is an interesting new esports sponsorship plan. Back in April of 2020, BMW entered into a multiple team esports sponsorship. BMW has partnered with the US-based Cloud 9, UK-based Fnatic, FunPlus Phoenix from China, SK Telecom T1 from South Korea, and Germany’s own esports giants G2 Esports. The deal is expected to cover multiple esports that each of the teams operate, not just their most notable esports teams.

 

An interesting part of their new campaign is their planned advertisements. In 2021, BMW is planning to send the esports teams into a thrilling fantasy world as the heroes of a unique manga story. The first issue has already been released, with the rest planned for the remainder of the year.

5. Overwatch League and IBM

The global technology and data services firm IBM entered into an analytics and sponsorship deal with the official Overwatch League, their partnership will extend through the 2022 season. This is the first time that the computing giant has entered the world of esports. it may not be the biggest sponsorship on the list, but the importance of this cannot be understated.

esports sponsorships

IBM is currently developing various data-driven solutions for the league using its IBM Watson artificial intelligence and cloud-based infrastructure. The firm will create tools to help the league process in-game data, produce more accurate ranking information and create predictive analysis elements for broadcasts.

As the esports world becomes more and more reliant on AI data, a partnership with one of the world’s best AI computing companies will have a major impact on the future of the league and the growth of esports.

The most interesting esports sponsorships

1. Guild Esports and Subway

The United Kingdom based esports organisation, Guild Esports announced a two-year sponsorship deal with sandwich franchise Subway. The multi-million-pound agreement will cover 55 EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) markets. Also, Subway branding will be featured on Guild’s team jerseys, across the organisation’s branded content, and throughout its London headquarters opening later in 2021.

esports sponsorships

This is huge news for the relatively young esports organisation. This major deal will see their valuation and their funding shoot through the roof. However, it will certainly look odd to see Subway branding on their outfits and content.

2. Vodafone Giants and Chupa Chups

You heard me right, the lollipop company Chupa Chups, have signed a sponsorship deal with Vodafone Giants, the Spanish esports organization that fields teams in six games including League of Legends and FIFA. Unsurprisingly, this is the first time that the lollipop company has entered into the world of esports.

The partnership is designed to convey a message “full of excitement and fun” to the gaming community, as Chupa Chups seeks to “continue exploring new territories to reach its consumers,” according to their release back in April 2020.

esports sponsorships

For a company that I only recognise from their stands at the checkouts of pharmacies and drug stores, I would not have expected them to realise the potential of the esports world. Vodafone Giants also has partnership agreements with chocolate bars producer, Kit Kat, and toy producer, Hot Wheels.

3. Team Heretics and Babybel

Another odd and interesting food sponsorship in the world of esports. The packed lunch staple, Le Groupe Bel’s cheese snack brand Babybel has entered the esports industry through a deal with Spanish organisation Team Heretics.

esports sponsorships

They have become the organisation’s official cheese snack. This is also the first venture for Babybel in esports. The deal will see Team Heretics and Babybel collaborate on initiatives that promote having healthy habits while gaming.

4. Riot Games and Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton entered into a partnership with Riot Games in September of 2019. They provided physical and digital design work for League of Legends Worlds 2019. Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s Artistic Director of Women’s Collections, joined forces with League of Legends’ artistic team to work on the new skins which will be presented during the main event. Besides creating new skins, RIOT also entrusted the Louis Vuitton team with the design of the Trophy Travel Case for the Summoner’s Cup.

5. Philadelphia Fusion and Rothman Orthopaedics

In an interesting move, the‌ ‌‌Overwatch‌‌ ‌League’s‌‌ ‌‌Philadelphia‌ ‌Fusion‌‌ ‌announced‌ ‌in February 2020 that‌ ‌the‌ ‌Rothman‌ ‌Orthopaedic‌ ‌Institute‌ ‌would‌ ‌serve‌ ‌as‌ ‌the‌ ‌team’s‌ ‌official‌ ‌medical‌ ‌provider‌ ‌and‌ ‌Fusion‌ ‌Arena‌ ‌sponsor.

esports sponsorships

The five-year agreement would see Fusion players get medical treatment, both active and preventative, to help the team deal with overuse injuries sustained such as sprained wrists, stiff backs, or even carpal tunnel. Rothman Orthopaedic Institute has partnered with many of the major sports teams in Philadelphia and may not have been a surprise for those in the city that they began the esports partnership but to the rest of the world, it is certainly odd.

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Andrew Boggs

Andrew is a Northern Ireland based journalist with a passion for video games. His latest hobby is watching people speedrun Super Mario 64 and realising how bad he is at platformers.

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