As the professional esport industry has exploded the role of the pro-player has changed immensely. Players, along with their teams, have become brands in themselves. Like their sports counterparts, they have become superstars travelling the world competing for multimillion dollar prize pools in front of a massive fanbase. Playing esports has become aspirational and exciting for young people.
Brands are now not only sponsoring events and teams, but also seeing the benefits of sponsoring players. This trend shows the rising status of players as a key part of this media led industry. One of the highest profile esports player non-endemic sponsorships is LoL player Enrique “XPeke” Cedeno Martinez who has joined Brazilian footballer Neymar as a representative of Gillette. (update 17 June- Fortnite star Tyler “Ninja” Blevins just announced a new partnership with Red Bull).
Red Bull eSports are one of the pioneers of esports sponsorship and have been working with esports players since 2008. They sponsor top players, such as Super Smash Bros Melee player Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya, but also players at grassroots level such as UK FIFA player Ryan Pessoa. “Athletes first, events second” is core to Red Bull’s esports marketing strategy and their long-term approach to the industry.
The Red Bull High Performance eSports Lab in Santa Monica is a state of the art facility to measure, deconstruct and train key gaming skills. The concept behind Red Bull’s esports lab is to match gamplay data and stats with player’s biometrics and team interactions. It analyses factors such as eye tracking, brain states, heart rate, galvanic skin response, facial patterns and team communications in real time to give a deeper insight into what really goes into the performance of a player.
Those outside the industry may not realize the physical components of playing esports professionally. Of course, key physical skills are different between esports and sports, just as they are between different physical sporting disciplines, but the degree of hand-eye coordination, and fast decision making required is undeniable.
Players routinely train over ten hours a day playing their games, but more advanced techniques are being introduced to get any competitive edge. A lot of the techniques and training strategies used by traditional athletes such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, massage and stress monitoring are also being incorporated into esports players training schedules. Teams are realizing that players are vital assets and their well being and career longevity is of utmost importance.
However, it is not only gaming skills that matters for pro esports players and the value they bring to the team. Just like with traditional sports, mass appeal outside of the esport is a valuable commodity for teams to attract new fans from outside esports.
Players who fail to build their own brand can find it hard to attract sponsors, regardless of how well they play. They may attract the interest of endemic brands such as gaming hardware companies, but not the interest of lifestyle brands looking for someone whose positioning overlaps with their own brand. The best way for players to make themselves more marketable is to build their personal brands, much like crossover celebrities in traditional sports.
EIPlatform — Bringing Brands and Players Together
EIPlatform (Esports Interactive Platform) is being developed on blockchain to offer solutions to brands wishing to reach their audience in the esports ecosphere. By offering brands and players the opportunity to interact and conduct transactions directly and securely, EIPlatform brings advantages to both sides of the arrangement.
Brands will benefit from direct access to players without the need for intermediaries or agencies. Advanced data management and analysis will allow advertisers to get the more effective market exposure, more efficient advertising spend and increased return on investments.
Players who have potential, but not yet playing at top levels, will be able to get better access to the budgets of sponsors and advertisers. EIPlatform will allow more money to enter the esports market at grass roots level and will benefit esport as a whole.
See the latest EIPlatform news on Telegram.