eSports Apparel Sponsorship

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Puma Joins Nike and Adidas in the Esports Apparel Sponsorship Chase

Brand launches first collection with Cloud9

Esports and sports are intertwined. Sports owners are running esports teams, football players are streaming on Twitch, and sports leagues are bolstering their digital counterparts. But, until recently, the major sportswear companies had only been testing the esports waters.

That’s changing quickly. At the end of August, Adidas released a new clothing line featuring Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Last month, Nike dropped team kits for China’s League of Legends Pro League. Now it’s Puma’s turn to get in on the action with a new ad showcasing their first official collection with Cloud9, a leading esports organization.

Each of those companies chose a different way to get involved in esports. Adidas went with an individual sponsorship, Nike with an entire league, and Puma with an organization competing in a variety of titles.

“Cloud9 is a very diverse group that is able to adapt to the variability of the gaming space in ways that any single league or individual simply isn’t,” said Adam Petrick, Puma’s global director of brand and marketing. “If a game falls out of popularity, a league could suffer; if a streaming platform struggles, a streamer’s career could stagnate. Partnering with an esports org like Cloud9 helps insulate us from that kind of risk, without sacrificing the ability to support and engage with future gaming trends.”

In 2018, Forbes placed a $310 million evaluation on Cloud9, making it the most valuable esports organization in the world. Since then, esports has moved quickly with many funding rounds changing valuations, but Cloud9 is undoubtedly one of the top organizations in the game.

Cloud9 has teams in League of Legends, CS:GO, Fortnite, Rocket League, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Rainbow Six, Teamfight Tactics, PUBG, Super Smash Bros and more. That’s what Petrick means when he speaks on Cloud9’s adaptability. Puma’s new spot developed by Moon to Mars brings many of Cloud9’s esports stars together in an ad that feels like a celebration of the organization as competitive players from various titles show their own paths to esports stardom.

“The #DareYou campaign tells the true stories of the players featured in the ad, showing what was expected of them and how they ultimately defied those expectations to pursue a life that is true to their character,” Petrick explained. “That’s not dissimilar to how Puma perceives its entry into esports—we dismiss as false the idea that esports is not a ‘serious sport,’ and #DareYou is our way of declaring, unequivocally, that there is not and has never been a meaningful distinction between gaming culture and sports culture.”

The path to becoming an esports pro isn’t easy. Young players have to convince parents that playing video games professional is a realistic career path, not just a way to avoid homework. Like being a professional athlete, only a minuscule percentage of players will actually succeed. The #DareYou spot shows how Cloud9 players took a risk to forego traditional career paths to pursue a life in esports. And now there’s an ad that proves that risk can sometimes come with great reward.

Rocket League Franchising

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Psyonix Carefully Considering Franchising for Rocket League Esports

Now backed by Fortnite developer Epic Games, Rocket League is considering a move to a franchise model for its esports series as publisher Psyonix Studios positions it for growth in the competitive gaming space.

Rocket League, released by Psyonix in 2015, is a video game based around cars playing five-minute soccer games. Epic Games announced in May that it acquired Psyonix for an undisclosed fee.

Because it is a simple game that doesn’t involve guns and has built a solid niche audience, industry executives are largely bullish on Rocket League’s potential as an esport, with the caveat that its potential is likely less than the world’s foremost esports like FortniteLeague of Legends, and Overwatch. Still, Rocket League was one of two games chosen for the Intel World Open event that will be held at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, underscoring how alluring it is to competitive gaming organizers.

“From our perspective, Rocket League has strong potential and we’re just now starting to scratch the surface [in esports],” said Jeremy Dunham, Psyonix’s vice president of publishing. “We’ve always been very bullish on Rocket League as an esport because it is one of the only video games/esports that we’re aware of that is based on an endemic sport … but [it] is also very different from traditional soccer because you fly and use vehicles instead of feet, so it’s a very nice twist on something familiar.”

Psyonix has several different series for Rocket League, with its premier one being the Rocket League Championship Series, which recently began its eighth season. The RLCS runs two different seasons a year. Rocket League action on Twitch has been averaging nearly 32K concurrent viewers this year — viewership for the opening weekend of RLCS Season 8 two weeks ago hovered around 75K viewers on Twitch. Season 8 sponsors include AxeIntel, and Tire Rack.

In the second division Rocket League Rival Series, teams compete for a chance to get promoted to the premier series, which relegates teams similar to many international soccer leagues. There is also a Collegiate Rocket League, where Psyonix offers scholarships and other funding to teams from schools around the U.S.

While the league is considering a franchise model similar to what’s been used for games such as Call of Duty,  League of Legends, and Overwatch, Dunham was careful to point out that Psyonix sees both pros and cons to the idea. He would not put a timeline on making a decision.

“We’ve been evaluating that for a while now and whether or not we do it is still a question for another time, but it’s definitely something we’ve talked about,” said Dunham. “It’s something the [team] organizations have been interested in, but there’s no outright evidence that says that is the only way to go.”

Still, there have been calls for franchising in Rocket League to help teams in areas such as revenue sharing. Dunham said Psyonix is still more focused on growing the game itself than making money from it. “But franchising is a big question with a lot of implications and potentially new investors and voices added to the mix, so before you want to take on something like that, you want to be sure that is the [desired] direction.”

Jason Lake is the founder and CEO of esports organization Complexity, which has a team that competes in RLCS’s European division. He said he would support franchising in Rocket League if it were structured correctly.

“If Rocket League franchises in a way that is beneficial for all stakeholders, it can be a very good thing,” Lake said. “If they ensure that teams, players and potential players are all thought of in how they design the corporate structure, there is great value to be had.”

eSports Pro League

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"eSports Pro League to be launched      in 2020"

Media network and tournament platform eSports Pro League (ESPL) has been announced, with intentions of it being launched in “early 2020.”

Mobile games publisher and digital entertainment company iCandy Interactive co-founded the company alongside behavioural data firm Sedania Innovator Berhad.

eSports Pro League, which will also be known as eSports Pte Ltd. Aims to build an ecosystem around publishers, players, teams, brands, and media. It intends to create a “Bedroom-to-Champion pathway” for aspiring professional players.

Michael Broda, CEO of eSports Pro League discussed the venture in a release: “We are very excited to launch the first season of the eSports Pro League in February 2020. Response from our international partners has been overwhelmingly positive. There is so much interest in ESPL.”

The company will run online and offline tournaments in collaboration with third-party organisers and game publishers. It will initially host tournaments in 16 countries – throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas – from February to December 2020. Even though eSports Pro League’s focus will be set on mobile games, it will also run tournaments on PC and console games.

It’ll be stationed in Singapore with offices also in Cologne, Germany and Los Angeles, USA.

Esports Insider says: Building an entire ecosystem is easier said than done, especially when a solid amount of esports are developer-ran and don’t typically source events out to third-party companies. eSports Pro League obviously have some lofty ambitions so we’ll see how it plays out once it launches.

The World’s First Dedicated Esports Racing Arena Is Coming to Miami

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Miami is the first venue for a planned series of multi-purpose esports arenas worldwide.

The world’s first dedicated esports racing facility is coming to Miami courtesy of Millennial Esports Corp, and the company says it won’t be the last one. In fact, according to president and CEO Darren Cox, it will be “the first of many locates around the world.”

“These centers will hold major local and international competitions, be used for both amateur and professional driver training and also stage major corporate events,” he said in Thursday’s announcement.

Esports is having a moment: Streaming is up 41% from last year alone and esports streamers like Ninja are bona fide celebrities with hefty online followings.

Millennial Esports is pushing to “professionalize global esports racing competition” with the 12,000 square-foot arena, according to the announcement. It will feature 30 racing simulators that can be raced on individually, linked with other rigs in the building or globally networked. There will also be a full-sized full-motion simulator like the ones used by major professional race teams.

The company has secured $2.8 million in private construction financing to complete the build-out. Millennial Esports has a controlling stake in specialist racing simulator constructor Allinsports and the arena is the continuation of a joint plan launched in August.

“Creating our first arena is an important step in Millennial Esports’ goal of taking esports racing to an entirely new level,” Cox said. “Allinsports already have a driver training simulator facility in Miami, but our new arena will take esports racing to an entirely new level. Esports is the fastest growing sport in the world, but the racing genre of esports is ready to take a massive leap.”

Bringing Non-Endemic Brands to Esports

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“Overwatch League broadcaster Christopher ‘MonteCristo‘ Mykles has been a part of the esports scene since well before brands got involved. And now that they’re here, he wants to make sure they don’t leave.

At Esports BAR Miami, Mykles took the stage to deliver an opening keynote directed at non-endemic brands and the esports franchises working with them, offering advice on how they can make their activations succeed. He began by highlighting ways successful non-endemics have made their way into popular esports leagues, a movement he’s seen grow considerably over his 15 years in the industry. 

Mykles showed clips of the Korean OnGameNet Star League, which broadcast Star Craft on TV throughout the 2000s. Because it was one of the earliest esports leagues to appear on TV with major production value behind it, it also was one of the first places non-endemic brands began to gain a foothold. For example, the 2010 Korean Air Star League finals included players making entrances out of planes, maintenance cranes, and the entire event taking place in an aircraft hangar.

“Anyone who knows the history of esports remembers this moment,” Mykles said. “This is one of the most iconic sponsorship we’ve had in this space, and one that in terms of scale or spectacle really hasn’t been eclipsed since. But it’s something I think non-endemic brands should keep in mind, because I’m still here and still talking to you about this ten years later, and all the fans remember this moment as well.”

What Korean Air did in 2010 is, he continued, is an effective use of one type of sponsorship opportunity: naming rights. Although tournament naming rights aren’t done quite as often anymore, esports continues to learn from traditional sports by using segment naming rights, such as for half-time shows.

Another naming rights example Mykles suggested that comes up frequently is that of awards, such as those given to a “player of the match.” In some cases, that can be a recurring segment every tournament or match, or it can look more like the Overwatch League’s MVP award, which is sponsored by T-Mobile and has made use of branded hashtags to get players to vote for their favorite player using the brand’s name.

Some companies, for one reason or another, struggle to get into the broadcast space itself and have to do something else, like “shoulder content.” Mykles’ example here is Bud Light, which deals with restrictions on advertising to audiences under 21. To counter this, Bud Light made its own branded match commentary show on its own Twitch channel that uses Overwatch League broadcasters and takes place in the Overwatch League studio.

“Not enough brands take advantage of the fact that they can custom-create their own content as part of a broader partnership with a league,” Mykles said. “At that point, you have more control over the tone of that content and how it aligns with your brand.” Bud Light is also an example of a non-endemic brand that has recently taken advantage of in-person content to promote itself as a part of a “fan experience” at an esports event. That’s something Mykles thinks the scene is going to see more of in the coming years as the landscape around live events changes.

“Part of venue activations have been that they haven’t been a really big part of esports simply because most esports broadcasts happen in small studios, and we only very occasionally have a stadium show as a final,” he said. “Now as franchise leagues like Overwatch League are moving to a localized model and we have dozens of home stands next year with large venues, there will be a lot more opportunities for brands to do activations in-person, at their local markets.”

Finally, Mykles talked about in-game promotions, such as a recent partnership between League of Legends and Louis Vuitton where the fashion line is creating in-game assets as well as a case for the Summer Cup trophy and a line of physical garments.

“I think this is going to be fascinating,” Mykles said. “We do not yet know what these skins or what the actual fashion line is going to look like, as it was just recently announced. It hits a lot of in-game stuff, but it will most likely hit the esports world as well, mostly because most skins in League of Legends with few exceptions are playable [in tournaments]. I assume we will see professional players in Louis Vuitton skins in the game.”

In answer to a question later as to why a partnership between a MOBA and a high-end fashion line would be desirable, Mykles added this:

“I assume that the market research shows that this is going to be a very desirable brand for League of Legends, or that they’re targeting a pretty wealthy consumer base that they think exists within esports that is going to buy this content. I don’t know if this is the arrangement they made with Riot, but if I’m Louis Vuittion, I’d say, ‘Okay, I’m going to design in-game fashion for you in exchange for a cut.’ And I think that becomes very popular because anyone can buy a $10 skin that has excellent design. I think there are many different ways the Louis Vuitton thing can go.”

Up to this point, Mykles had spoken only of sponsorship deals that already exist in the esports space as examples of ways non-endemic brands can find their way in. But he doesn’t think that just following existing models is enough to keep these brands around and their partnerships successful.

“I think brands are used to coming to esports and thinking, ‘Let’s just go with what we know. Let’s go with a model that’s going to have the same opportunities.’ That’s very safe, but might be less compelling and less interesting and also we have technology on our side in esports that allows us to do some more interesting things.”

Mykles offered two ideas. The first is to take advantage of augmented reality, which has already seen use in esports matches as an additive form of entertainment rather than a sponsorship opportunity. For example, he showed a clip of an AR dragon landing on top of the stadium for the League of Legends 2017 World Championships — a performance for which the company won an Emmy.

“This is a pretty impressive technical achievement, and I think in general augmented reality has been underused as a sponsorship tool, because you can add almost anything at any scale,” Mykles said. A second possibility for brand sponsorship that Mykles suggested is to take advantage of available real-time data for fantasy esports. Already, Twitch plugins let people predict winners, high damage dealers in matches, and more. The Overwatch League currently incentivizes participation by offering in-game rewards to those who make accurate predictions

“If you wanted to drive a lot of interaction, actively sponsoring something like this would mean whenever someone opens the Overwatch League website to make their predictions, or over the course of several games in a row, somebody is seeing your branding, your campaign, as they’re making selections. And they will do it, because they are getting in-game currency they can use to upgrade the aesthetics of their characters.”

Ultimately, Mykles wants esports companies specifically to offer non-endemic brands a helping hand as they make their forays into esports. Otherwise, he said, the industry might lose them.

“What I’d really love to see brands doing more is a lot of this custom content. And sometimes a lot of the developers or producers are reluctant to do this, especially if clients aren’t asking for it, because a lot of times it will require work from the developers themselves outside of the esports or sponsorship teams in order to get these products. But for me, I think it’s important this is done because keeping the brands around has been one of our central challenges.

Many brands are new to esports. They’re dipping their toes in the water for the first time. They don’t really know how to activate in the space. They’ll create a sort of one-dimensional marketing campaign, it can sometimes be ineffective, and then they leave forever. And that’s not really the [kind of] stability of partnerships we’re interested in making in this industry.”

Gaming Intelligence

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”Gaming Intelligence – The industry’s leading source of independent news and analysis”

ESC Today provides unrivaled online legal, regulatory & business intelligence into the global gambling market.

The leading B2B information service for the global online gambling and gaming industry, featuring news, insight, interviews and expert opinion. ESC Today is dedicated exclusively to serving the business intelligence needs of the global interactive gaming industry. 

The only publication focused on current and future technology trends within the egaming industry, including handheld, wearable and reality-altering devices and Providing a blend of news, analysis and industry intelligence for marketers working within egaming’s leading operator and affiliate businesses.

Gaming Intelligence is dedicated exclusively to serving the business intelligence needs of the global interactive gaming industry. Providing timely coverage and analysis of all the developments impacting industry stakeholders.

ESC Today is the leading provider of independent business intelligence to the global gambling industry.  Gaming-targeted hardware and builds were one thing, but the dominance of PC as the esports platform helped pushed sales beyond expectations.

Market intelligence for games, esports, and mobile. Get the data and insights you … The Global Leader in Games and Esports Analytics. Gaming Intelligence is dedicated exclusively to serving the business intelligence needs of the global interactive gaming industry.

he exciting world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the subject of the Gaming Standards Association’s (GSA) latest Technology Summit (GSATS), They’ve worked with NASA for incorporating space-worthy materials before, but this time it wasn’t just for a light and durable alloy – it’s for heat-shielding properties.

As gaming platforms, esports and immersive gaming technologies continue to explode in popularity across the world, There’s also a brief section on PUBG and battle royale’s meteoric rise, which goes to show how diverse esports can be.

Love it, hate it, or just outright confused by it, you can certainly expect to see more esports and gaming developments worldwide

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new kings

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The show wants to “shed light on how gaming has rapidly evolved from a pastime into top-tier sports”;

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Have you ever tried explaining esports without resorting to the awfully reductive “playing video games for money?” It’s not easy.

Never mind the fact that there are plenty of different games and genres in the field, but there are also loads of other factors that contribute to the explosive success of this multi-million-dollar industry (even if the metrics and revenue models continue to be in contention).

Here to penetrate the blinding stage lights is Discovery with a new 45-minute program called Esports: The Rise of the New King. Premiering this August, the show wants to “shed light on how gaming has rapidly evolved from a pastime into top-tier sports.”

The Rise of the New King comes hot on the heels of a co-branding partnership with MSI. The two worked together for the latter’s PS63 Modern laptop, and they’re bumping fists once again for this upcoming documentary.

We had a sneak preview at a recent MSI event, and all things considered, it’s pretty good. We get perspectives from the fans, teams and the industry for an all-encompassing look, including a segment on computer hardware.

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It focuses purely on MSI, of course, but it brings up the important link between esports and PC manufacturers. It wasn’t too long ago when desktop computers were predicted to fail, an exiting relic in the face of ever-powerful smartphones. Well, not if gamers could help it. Gaming-targeted hardware and builds were one thing, but the dominance of PC as the esports platform helped pushed sales beyond expectations.

Gaming saved MSI, as any rep would gladly share, and it probably channelled much-needed revenue into other companies too. It was only natural for these companies to ‘give back to the community’, as they so often say, and these endemic sponsorships end up fueling the tournaments that now make headlines and inspire a whole new generation of fans (and PC buyers).

The MSI segment primarily focused on cooling, given their dedicated fight against thermal throttling. It’s an ongoing endeavour at the company even today, and in Rise of the New King you’ll see them playing with liquid nitrogen and blowtorches for temperature tests. They’ve worked with NASA for incorporating space-worthy materials before, but this time it wasn’t just for a light and durable alloy – it’s for heat-shielding properties.

As for the esports itself, the program follows last year’s ESL One New York and MSI MGA finals, so expect to see lots of CS:GO in action; featured teams include Complexity, Fnatic and Avangar. There’s also a brief section on PUBG and battle royale’s meteoric rise, which goes to show how diverse esports can be.

It seems that gaming has ended up intriguing the network as well. “With esports surging in popularity, we have seen its potential and launched Discovery Games Studios to create games inspired by various TV shows from Discovery’s properties,” said VP and GM for Greater China and Korea, Tony Qiu.

Love it, hate it, or just outright confused by it, you can certainly expect to see more esports and gaming developments worldwide

New Kings - The Global Home For Electronic Arts, Entertainment And Sports


HALO wars

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Extending into group competitions off the HALO franchise;

"Could Halo Wars Take eSports By Storm?

There is no question that StarCraft is not quite the big deal in eSports that it once was. MOBAS are in when it comes to strategy games. Does that mean that the RTS is dead? Maybe not, there is a huge fanbase for old school strategy games such as Age of empires. But what about Halo Wars?

What is Halo Wars?

Well I’m sure all of you are familiar with Halo, right? The game is one of Microsoft’s flagships, detailing the exploits of the heroic Master chief leading humanity in their war against the alien Covenant. The game started its life as a first-person shooter and in many ways was the title that helped X-box become the powerhouse that it is. Later the series received a real-time strategy game in the form of Halo Wars. Surprisingly, It’s actually really good.


Surprisingly good.

There has been a long-standing acceptance that generally strategy games don’t translate particularly well to console. Using a mouse and keyboard just seems far more intuitive for this kind of game, especially with being able to customise keyboard shortcuts. Halo Wars was different. This wasn’t a PC game being ported to console. Here was a game designed for console, and as a result, it just worked. There was an element of resource collecting, but make no mistake the focus was on action.

Halo Wars 2

This title was designed with eSports in mind. The main Halo series has been popular on the eSports circuit and Halo Wars 2 was created to play in a similar vein. Although developers 343 had the competitive play in mind when they designed it, it hasn’t yet taken off and become a player in the world of eSports. But should it be? The Creative Assembly executive producer David Nicholson certainly thinks so stating “You don’t make an eSports game; you make an eSports-ready game and the community turn it into an eSports game.” If that’s what has been done, why hasn’t it happened yet?


Well according to 343 the fans want to see it. There is a feeling among the community of Halo Wars players that it is eventually going to happen and that is always encouraging. Of course, it needs to be financially backed as well. Microsoft has shown with the Age of Empires franchise that if there is the demand within the community they will put up the money to make a competition with a prize fund. (Admittedly not much in the case of AOE). But with all the talk from the development team about how the game was designed to be eSports friendly you have to think that a conversation about that potential was discussed before the game was even produced.

The future

There are several modes within the game that lend themselves to competition. Some of the noise coming out of the community is that there is a lack of balance between the factions and this is something that truly needs addressing if it going to become competitive.


Variety is the spice of life

Then there is the fact that with limited factions and options games aren’t really THAT interesting to watch. Part of the reason that MOBAs have become so widely popular is that there tend to be a wealth of different characters to choose from. The offshoot of this is there is an almost unlimited amount of group compositions. This leads to matchups that are varied and different. Different strategies can be employed and this is what makes the matches so great for spectators.

So will it happen?

Well that’s the 64 thousand dollar question, isn’t it? (That’s actually not that much these days is it?) The production company and the fans seem keen, but it remains to be seen. Maybe Halo Wars 3?"

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American brands looking to gain further ground into Chinese markets;

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ZDS celebrates with a crowd packed with 76ers Gaming Club fans during the game against Celtics Crossover Gaming during the NBA 2K League Playoffs on July 26, 2019 at the NBA 2K Studio in Long Island City, New York. Steven Freeman | NBAE via Getty Images
"The NBA is the most popular sports league in China, and esports could be key to more growth
  • This weekend, fans in China will be able to watch the NBA 2K esports league finals tip off for the first time ever.
  • The competitive video game league, run jointly by games publisher Take Two and the NBA, signed its first distribution partnership in China with Tencent just last week.
  • The NBA has grown over the years to become China’s most popular league.
  • The Chinese Basketball Association estimates that about 300 million people play the sport in China, and the NBA launched NBA China back in 2008 as a result of the sport’s growing popularity in the country.

This weekend, fans in China will be able to watch the NBA 2K esports league finals tip off for the first time ever.

The competitive video game league, run jointly by games publisher Take Two and the NBA, signed its first distribution partnership in China with Tencent just last week. The partnership assures that the 2K League can key into a region with long-established avid esports viewers.

While the stream will re-air on Tencent given the time difference, Chinese audiences will essentially be able to watch the 76ers’ and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2K League teams face off like their Western counterparts on Twitch and YouTube.

And according to the NBA, increasing the accessibility and exposure of the esports league could actually bolster the basketball organization’s growth efforts in China.

The NBA has grown over the years to become China’s most popular league. The Chinese Basketball Association estimates that about 300 million people play the sport in China, and the NBA launched NBA China back in 2008 as a result of the sport’s growing popularity in the country. They also work with the Chinese Ministry of Education to develop programs to discover and train future talent in the sport.

What’s more, the league has long had a media presence in the country. The NBA not only has a partnership with China Central Television (CCTV) that spans over 3 decades, but also a partnership with Tencent separate from the 2K League deal that was recently extended.

“We are also focused on delivering live NBA games and compelling content to our Chinese fans by working with our media partners,” NBA China CEO Derek Chang told CNBC. “Our recent partnership expansion with Tencent promises continued innovations that allow our fans to access NBA content wherever they are and whenever they want it.”

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But along with a love for the traditional sport itself, there’s also a love for the NBA 2K franchise. The PC-based free-to-play version of the game has over 40 million registered users in China alone, an audience that 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue says they “haven’t spoken to yet” and that could also be brought in to enjoy the NBA.

Specifically, Donohue is referring to so-called “esports enthusiasts,” a more hardcore esports audience that according to research firm Newzoo will make up almost half of the general esports audience this year. And of the over 201 million viewers considered esports enthusiasts based on the firm’s estimates, 75 million of them will be in China.

That would make China the country with the most esports enthusiasts in the world. So even though the 2K League is focused on the 40 million gamers who already play 2K as well as Chinese basketball fans, Donohue stresses that China’s esports audience offers more inroads for the NBA as a whole.

But the 2K League would essentially be striving to engage with an esports audience that historically has gravitated towards MOBAs, also known as Multiplayer online battle arenas, a game genre exemplified by popular free-to-play games like Defense of the Ancients 2 (DotA 2) and League of Legends.

Here, Donohue emphasizes that there is a “ton of crossover” between avid NBA 2K players and other genres that aren’t necessarily sports games, and reaching that audience will involve “being thoughtful about producing content that’s compelling to each audience.”

”[China has a huge number of] esports enthusiasts, and that number grows every month,” he said. “The Tencent partnership definitely helps us, but there’s a bigger potential audience that we can tap into.”

In February, the esports league held their first international qualifying event, the NBA 2K League APAC Invitational. It featured 20 players across the Asia-Pacific region vying for eligibility to qualify for the North American-based NBA 2K League.

Of the 20 players selected for the tournament, six were made eligible for the league’s draft in April, according to the NBA. While no players from China were drafted, Chang points out that the esports league’s presence in China ultimately is a boon for both the traditional NBA entity and its esports counterpart.

“For us, having the NBA 2K League available to fans in China provides another way to engage our passionate fans across the country and is part of a larger strategy of having Chinese players in the NBA 2K League,” he said.

And Donohue believes that ultimately, just like the NBA proper, expanding the 2K League’s global reach will ultimately lead to superstars that drive the conversation about esports and basketball forward.

“We’re essentially looking for the Yao Ming of the 2K League, and could that open a whole new audience for us as well,” he concluded.

The NBA 2K League Finals will tip off at 3PM ET this Saturday. You can catch the action on the 2K League’s Twitch and YouTube channels."

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getting traditional

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Looking to bring the digital into the everyday - one has to question whether traditional sports would be the first point of reference for a new methodology;

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"An Esports Team Created a Fashion Line for Gamers to Feel More Like Traditional Sports Fans. NYC's Andbox partnered with Mother Design and Public School | By Marty Swant

As esports continues to grow from a subculture to the mainstream, one New York City organization is combining gamer branding with streetwear.

Andbox—a new esports organization that hosts the city’s esports teams, watch parties and competitions for the popular games Overwatch and Call of Duty—has collaborated with the agency Mother Design and the fashion brand Public School to release a line of fan merchandise. The collection is part of a new brand identity that debuted this summer to help make esports fans feel a little more like traditional sports fans—merchandise and all.

With the first set of items ranging from hoodies and neon-accented socks to branded face masks that protect a player’s identity, Andbox co-founder Farzam Kamel said the company wants to help create a “material presence” in New York that helps localize the global phenomenon. (Andbox operates the Overwatch League franchise New York Excelsior.)

“We really think about our audience and what they’ve been starved of until recently,” Kamel said. “When you look at the introduction of these localized leagues, there is going to be products and experiences that audiences can be given that they’ve never been given before.”

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Maxwell Osborne, an award-winning designer and co-founder of Public School, said the goal was to build on New York’s existing identity as a place for fashion and street wear. For example, he said the fabric looks like a grid when viewed from up close—just like the grid of New York City’s streets. However, the eight colors are meant to invoke a brand rooted in the digital world but that can be worn in the real world.

“It was throwing ourselves in the mind of the gamer and trying to put ourselves in their chair and understanding it,” Osborne said. “It was different than what we do normally but also a lot of the same. You’re treating it as a sports league—like baseball or basketball. What are they wearing off court and on court? We treat gaming as a collection.”

The offline and online worlds of gaming continue to grow more mainstream. Earlier this year, the market research firm Newzoo projected the esports market could reach $1.1 billion in revenue in 2019. That’s an increase of 26.7% from 2018, with about 82% of the total market composed of investments from endemic and non-endemic brands paying for media rights, advertising and other sponsorship deals.

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To help prepare Andbox to reach a wider array of fans, Mother Design has spent the past two years on the brand’s identity, naming and design. The name is derived from the tech term “sandbox”—used to describe the process of experimenting with new creativity and ideas. That’s partly because they wanted Andbox to evolve with esports with the possibility of new teams, new games and new events in the future.

Danielle Horanieh, managing director for Mother Design, said they wanted to create a professional team but not one that falls into the typical caricature of a gamer. She said the agency knew Andbox could be not just a professional team but also a brand, and that the city’s gamer community is “really thirsty for elevated experience that look at them as a whole person rather than as just a gamer.”

“Ultimately, what we were going for was something that can live and breath and change with the organization and change with the fast-evolving times that we live in,” Horanieh said. “I think it’s a really good example of an identity that can flex from print to digital.”

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Maxwell Osborne, co-founder of Public School, said the goal was to build on New York’s existing identity as a place for fashion and street wear."