Each week we bring you a taste of what is happening around the commercial world of esports. We will focus on advances in the Irish sector when there are some, as well as on some of the commercial deals which are taking place and fuelling the rapid growth of this area within the world of sport.

Today we have the second part of our esports fundamentals series with Colm Roche of Core Sponsorship, a review of the Legion ESports Fortnite competition, News of Ireland’s performance in the Basketball eSports Euros, Etihad and red Bull sponsorship announcements and the creation of a programme at a major US University.

 

********

 

AN INTRODUCTION TO esports

 

Over the next four weeks, we have joined forces with Colm Roche who heads up Core Sponsorship’s Gaming division to go right back to basics and explain the what, how, who and why of esports.

It will build into a full primer of what brand managers need to know about the surge in interest that is already well in place around the world and which is beginning to land in Ireland.

 

Part Two – What are the Opportunities?

Sponsorship opportunities within global esports are plentiful but we are limited within Ireland. With events that are professionally organised, sponsorship packages and benefit schedules can be offered much like traditional sports sponsorships.

Esport teams are businesses too, much like any traditional rightsholder, and team brands are always looking to enhance revenues by bringing the right sponsorship opportunities to the market.

 

 

 

However, opportunities within Gaming platforms will need to be more carefully assessed and identified.

Whether that be mobile Gaming, influencer activity utilising streaming platforms like twitch or amateur local events, they all offer unique brand opportunities including In-game banner and video ads, pre-roll VOD on Twitch, Influencer marketing, team sponsorship and more.

They do though contain a multitude of uncertainties and risk. Most importantly, brands need a clear and concise strategy to ensure they do not unduly interrupt fan experiences. 

 

The Irish Market

 

The Irish Gaming market is still very much developing from a commercial sense but is estimated to be worth around €91 million (Statista, Ireland esports research).

There has been a step-change within the industry year on year and the market has seen accelerated growth in the past 12 months as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Brands have an opportunity to become part of the Irish Gaming landscape in a stage of early growth and tap into the Millennial and Gen Z audiences that are proving increasingly hard to reach through traditional media channels.

With the establishment of Ireland esports governing body in 2019, an increase in esports teams representing on the global circuit (WYLDE, Munster Rugby Gaming, and others) and gaming programmes launched on our national broadcaster RTÉ, this developing area is soon to catch up with the rest of the billion-euro gaming market.

 

Have a look back at last week’s eSports Weekly to see the first of the articles in this series

Join us in two weeks time after the Bank Holiday for Part Three where we will look at the Gaming Audience.

 

********

 

LEGION ESPORTS SERIES OFF TO FLYER

 

Ireland’s inaugural Legion Esports Series powered by GamerStore.ie saw over 960 registered players battle it out to claim a share of the €1,000 Prize Pool.

The GamerStore.ie Legion Esports Series, hosted by leading Irish gaming streamer TheGaraShow and sponsored by Trust Gaming, sees a series of Irish gaming tournaments taking place throughout the year across a range of huge titles including Fortnite, Rainbow 6 Siege and FIFA21.

The first of these took place last month and the second is about to get under way.

“We were absolutely blown away by the engagement and excitement generated by our initial Fortnite tournament,” said Legion Esports co-founder Stuart Dempsey

“It’s amazing to see the talent in Irish esports go head to head and get the recognition they deserve. With over 960 players and 48,000 views of the tournament to date, it’s been a really pleasing start for the series.”

“It’s been a hugely rewarding journey, albeit a challenging one. Our company’s DNA is in live gaming festivals here in Ireland and we have welcomed over 15,000 visitors to our events over the last few years. Unfortunately, Covid brought live events to a very sudden halt, so we have made the move online with the Legion Esports Series.”

“A huge thank you goes to our team and partners for making it happen, and the reality is we are only just scratching the surface with this most recent Fortnite tournament. We are planning bigger and better things for the rest of this year, with some really exciting announcements in the pipeline.”

 

We look forward to working with Stuart Dempsey, Paul Gallagher, Robert O’Halloran and the team at GamerStore, as well as other sport for Business members with an interest in the sector, to bring esports to life for brands over the coming weeks, months and beyond.

 

********

 

IRISH HOOPS GAMERS JUST MISS OUT

 

The Irish basketball esports team were eliminated at the group stage of the FIBA Esports Open III on Friday night, after recording one win and two losses in the Europe Conference ‘Current Gen’ competition.

Ireland’s task was formidable with three consecutive group games, in what was a difficult draw. They faced off against an unknown quantity in Estonia in the first game and Ireland stormed into an early 13-8 lead after the first quarter. A disastrous second period saw Ireland lose the quarter by ten though, and they trailed 26-21 at half-time.

John De Lara was scoring well in his debut, he got 11 points to help out top scorer Jack Tobin (14 points) and Eoghan Daly who had an impressive double-double, with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Ireland, Estonia’s strong fourth quarter helped them steal the game 48-45.

Looking to bounce back quickly, Ireland went up against Poland in the second game of the evening. A great team defensive performance saw Ireland lock down their opponents, as they won comfortably 57-44. Eoghan Daly was again the standout performer with an incredible 28 points and 10 rebounds, while captain Mick Curley added seven points and John De Lara had 10.

The win set up a final game with group favourites Latvia, knowing that a win would see Ireland qualify for the quarter-finals, or a loss combined with a Polish win against Estonia would also see Ireland through.

Ireland started strongly against Latvia, going toe to toe with the heavy favourites. At the end of the first quarter Latvia led 16-11, Eoghan Daly, who was continuing his strong play, grabbed six points in the opening quarter. The second quarter was a poor one again for Ireland, as Latvia showed their quality by extending their lead to 17 points at half-time. Ireland continued to battle hard, Daly got his third double-double of the day with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but Latvia ran out deserved winners 60-40.

Agonisingly for Ireland, Estonia beat Poland by three points, 62-59, in the group’s last game, which meant that Ireland were eliminated.

Irish Esports team manager, Conor Meany, said: “The guys were desperately unlucky for the second tournament in a row. We had a slow start and narrowly lost a game to Estonia, that we were comfortable in at times. We’re not far off the pace, but we will need to play even more games to ensure that we are ready to go at the start of the next FIBA Esports Open.”

 

********

 

ETIHAD LAUNCH THREE YEAR SPONSORSHIP

 

Etihad Airways has this morning announced a three-year sponsorship deal with Team Nigma which recently relocated to Abu Dhabi as part of a collaborative Abu Dhabi Gaming Initiative.

The intention is to attract and nurture gaming talent in the region and having such a major backer as Etihad, who already sponsor in F1 and Manchester City is a major step forward.

 

********

 

RED BULL EXPANDS INTEREST WITH WAVE ESPORTS

 

Wave esports has signed a new partnership deal with Red Bull.  The partnership will initially be based around the Valorant team.  Wave esports also runs professional teams in Fortnite and Brawl Stars.

 

********

 

ESPORTS PROGRAMME LAUNCHED AT UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

 

Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard has donated $4 million towards the establishment of a dedicated esports programme at the University of Michigan by 2022.

The Call of Duty creator said that “Esports is poised for explosive growth, and I am thrilled to join the University of Michigan to develop a programme that will cultivate the talent to meet the needs of this complex and evolving industry.”

“Unlike traditional sports, esports is truly a participant sport that anyone can play and enjoy.

“Most of the people watching are also playing – this leads to greater enthusiasm, engagement and truly unlimited potential.

“University of Michigan combines world-class instruction, research and athletics, making them the perfect partner for a multi-disciplinary collegiate programme that will help shape the future of esports.”

 

**********

 

Legion Esports, Epic Gaming and Red Bull are all among more than 250+ members of the Sport for Business network of sporting and business organisations working together across a number of key areas.

 

Sport for Business Partners