ELEAGUE ACTION

Another week of eSports action rounded up with all the bits you need to know by our gaming pro Liam Thompson

What a week we had last week. For me as a big CS:GO fan I was treated to a full 7 days of eSports action during the ELeague Major, watching the best teams from around the world compete for a slice of the $1 million prize pool. The Eleague event was hugely successful for a number of reasons, with ridiculous kills, unexpected upsets and amazing comebacks. More broadcasting deals, exclusive signings and sponsorships have occurred in the last week with a few to pick out and digest.

Audi’s new sponsorship takes pole position

After previously highlighting Audi’s jump into eSports by sponsoring team Astralis, I mentioned they were in the running to win the upcoming ELeague CS:GO Major… And they did just that.  After a shaky start losing their first match, winning just two out of their first four and being one game away from elimination, things weren’t looking good for Astralis. The team clutched up and made a championship run which went down to the wire. With it all hanging on the final round, game three of three, Astralis managed to win the grand final 16-14 against Virtus.Pro. For Audi this is the best start possible to their new found sponsorship, their brand already making an impact to eSports viewers.

Watch the winning moment right here via Twitch eSports.

Record breaking viewership

Speaking of viewers, it was announced that the Eleague CS:GO Major broke the all-time concurrent viewer figures in the history of Twitch. The previous record of 890k concurrent viewers was smashed; the grand final reached over 1 million live viewers, all tuning in to watch Astralis and Virtus.Pro fight it out for $500,000. 1 million live viewers… Not only is that number just crazy, but the viewing figures often sat between 300-600k viewers for the majority of the week long tournament, which doesn’t include around 200k people who watched directly via GOTV on the game itself, plus those watching live through Turner’s broadcasting channels. Going back to my point before, Audi’s brand was displayed subtly at the fore-front of this tournament to millions of eSports fans across just one week all down to Astralis.

Facebook secure exclusive streaming rights with Blizzard

Similar to how ESL agreed exclusive streaming rights to YouTube Gaming for their 2017 Pro league, Facebook are now stepping up their game and following suit with new exclusive streaming rights. In an agreement with Blizzard Entertainment, Facebook have been granted an exclusive deal to broadcast the 2017 spring season of “Heroes of the dorm” taking away the rights from ESPN2 which has shown the season and championship for the last two years. Moving from a paid network service to a free social platform will help Blizzard reach a new and potentially bigger audience than before, showcasing the competition, statistics and more.

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G2 eSports becomes the first to sign Facebook deal

It isn’t just publishers and leagues who are creating these streaming deals with Facebook, now a team is too. G2 eSports have also announced a deal with Facebook which will see the team broadcast gameplay onto the platform. G2 currently have professional teams across 6 different games including League of Legends, Hearthstone and Rocket League. While the deal isn’t exclusive and the players will likely continue to use services such as Twitch and YouTube, they will start to ramp up their broadcasts on Facebook being the first team to sign such a deal. They aim to use this new media strategy to help grow the team’s audience, unlock new sponsorships and increase engagement with its brand.

Gillette signs cutting edge deal with ESL

Gillette has announced a new global partnership with ESL which sees the male grooming brand sponsor the League of Legends Intel® Extreme Masters World Championship Katowice 2017. Gillette will be offering the teams and fans at IEM Katowice the chance to customize Gillette razor handles using 3D printing technology. Any League of Legend’s players competing at the event will also receive free grooming services throughout the opening weekend. Gillette has also signed its first eSports athlete to become a global brand ambassador, xPeke, a professional gamer who once was crowned MVP at a previous IEM Katowice event. They’ll be creating content with him and holding special signing sessions at this year’s event.

As broadcasting rights get eaten up by different platforms and even teams are starting to follow the trend it will be interesting to see how many more we see over the next few months.