The author's opinions are not representative of SK Gaming's.
Yeah it’s true, John Doe is back.
Today I will give you an in-depth view about sponsoring in eSports these days and its history and ask a big question; at the end I want your opinions on the topic as usual.
If you wonder why I didn’t write for some time, I had a long healthy vacation at the British Virgin Islands with Mrs. Doe followed by protection of the SK Gai Ming Brotherhood from the witch hunt @Slasher (Hi there!) and most of the self-proclaimed professional American eSports journalists started to find out my identity, unnecessary to say it ended in lots of tears and epic failure. But let’s get to work here.
Sponsorships are one, if not the cornerstone of every professional gaming team. That’s not something new, but sponsorships evolved pretty quickly just like eSports itself and it is still hard for sponsors to decide where they can really get something out of a deal.
We all know the stories of broken promises, overpromising but under delivering Teams and their Managements and the endless journey of five polish guys for food and shelter.
Let us turn back Time to the Big Bang of eSport Sponsorships before we get to that point.
It all started with the game server providers, if you had a free gaming server in CS Beta versions or the possibility to set one up on your own with more than a 56k connection you were “The Guy”, and players have been really proud about being sponsored at that time.
People did their Day-Job and went to school and in the evenings gathered to play CS in LAN Cafes or at home on their sponsored internet servers.
The official prize money changed from tons of beer to tons of money and in eSports evolution the first real professional players were born.
Gamers stopped playing Duke Nukem, forever, and started to play games such as Quake 3, StarCraft, Half-Life and Counter-Strike.
The first RTS and FPS games with competitive Multiplayer functions created us, eSports, and we evolved, with millions of players around the globe today, a big community of people playing videogames for the pure purpose of competitive play against each other.
Gaming enabled lots of us to find friends around the planet, have moments of joy and disappointment, and even opened new markets for young companies like the ESL and manufacturers who build products specifically for your needs, such as Steel Series.
And here we are, we have a World Championship with the WCG, we have international Tournaments with a nice chunk of prize money and we have professional gaming teams with people earning a living from managing it or playing for them. All financed by Sponsorships.
But the fatal flaw of this system is, without companies that are willing to put money and effort into this still young market segment of enthusiast gamers and professional players, eSport is doomed.
With the year 2009 and Budget cuts all over the place it became even more complicated for many companies to find a sense in why they are spending money in electronic sports. And for many teams it became even harder to keep up with paying the same amount of salaries and sending their players to international events.
No one wants to admit that their team is failing on an economical base and even a temporary shutdown of operations in eSports means you will not get back on top again most of the time.
Meet Your Makers and SK-Gaming are perfect examples here for how Sponsorships shape organizations.
And I’ll not take these as an example to throw dirt at MYM or praise SK-Gaming. This example is about two almost same sized companies and communities, and their philosophy of handling their business.
Meet your Makers had to shut down operations, filing bankruptcy, and even had to sell their brand name to another company, like we all know.
Still they are back, with almost the same business model they failed with in the first place, a company behind that never had to do anything with eSports but wants to profit from the size of its community, with a great CS team that has lots of potential, and the need to be one of the top teams on in eSports again to create a return on investment for the people who bought the name.
SK-Gaming on the other hand is tradition, it exists since the beginning of eSports and many milestones in our still young sports have been set by people working and playing at it.
Both of them have a really big community, both had success and many epic battles between players from both organizations have been fought for titles. Still only one survived.
The question is why? The answer is a bit complex.
In my opinion every eSports team has a “soul”, be it individuals like former SK|Spawn, the Fifa Twins, the new SK CS Team, an overall positive appearance through lots of hard work from people behind the scenes you hardly ever hear anything from like bds and TheSlash or through a close connection to its fan base.
Let’s face it, eSports is about emotions, and that’s why we are fans of teams, players, and organizations because watching their games, or having the chance to play with people you respect and honor on a competitive level makes you feel good.
Sponsors are living from those emotions too, the need to follow your idol to play with peripherals and hardware, the connection to your favorite organization or player by wearing the teams own apparel.
And that’s where most teams fail and others worked solid in the past years.
But emotions also bring problems with them in this case, every single one of us has less money to spend this year, making us think carefully where to spend money and what we really need.
And if companies investing in eSports sell fewer products, they will cut budgets further and with that more eSport teams and tournaments will die.
I talked about Sponsorship evolution in the beginning and this will be the future if not everyone in the community is willing to support the Sponsors of their favorite teams, and their favorite team itself.
So make your own mind up and tell me how you think Sponsorship will / should evolve and what part emotions play for you in eSport.
But there is one last thing….
I may end this article by a quote from one of the greatest TV characters of all-time.
This is especially for you DJ Wheat and my personal answer to the question if anonymous writers should be allowed to write articles on a Website like SK-Gaming.
"I won't go down in history, but I will go down on your sister."
Thanks for Reading.
@Thooorin on twitter.
2001-2002 Pro-cybernews (Editor-in-Chief)
2002-2003 Gamers.nu (Lead Editor)
2004-2005 ESportsEA (Editor-in-Chief, Consultant)
2006-2008 ESportsEA (Editor, Community feature host)
2008 TAO-CS volume 1 (Co-author)
2008 TAO-fRoD (Co-author)
2008-2009 WinOut.net (Editor-in-Chief, Consultant)
2009-2012 SK Gaming (Editor-in-Chief)
2012-2013 Team Acer (Editor-in-Chief)
2013-2014 OnGamers (Senior eSports Content Creator)
Pro bono publico:
2001-2002 XSReality (Site administrator)
2003-2004 Team3D (Editor-in-Chief, Consultant)
2012-2013 fragbite (Blogger)
2013-XXXX [POD]Cast (Co-host)
2005 Down with the s1ckn3ss
2009 fRoD Quick and nasty (part 1)
Events attended for coverage purposes:
2001 CPL London (Pro-cybernews)
2001 WCG Qualifier (Pro-cybernews)
2002 CPL Summer (Gamers.nu)
2002 WCG Qualifier (Gamers.nu)
2002 CPL Oslo (Gamers.nu)
2002 CPL Winter (Gamers.nu)
2003 CPL Cannes (Gamers.nu)
2003 Clikarena (Gamers.nu)
2004 CPL Winter (ESportsEA)
2009 WEM (SK Gaming)
2010 IEM IV European Championship (SK Gaming)
2010 IEM IV World Championship (SK Gaming)
2010 Arbalet Best of Four (SK Gaming)
2010 Arbalet Cup Europe (SK Gaming)
2010 e-Stars Seoul (SK Gaming)
2010 WCG (SK Gaming)
2010 WEM (SK Gaming)
2011 IEM V European Championship (SK Gaming)
2011 Assembly Winter (SK Gaming)
2011 IEM V World Championship (SK Gaming)
2011 Copenhagen Games (SK Gaming)
2011 Dreamhack Summer (SK Gaming)
2011 SK vs. FX showmatch (SK Gaming)
2011 e-Stars Seoul (SK Gaming)
2011 ESWC (SK Gaming)
2012 IEM VI Kiev (SK Gaming)
2012 IEM VI World Championship (SK Gaming)
2012 WCS Europe (Team Acer)
2012 Dreamhack Open Valencia (Team Acer)
2012 Dreamhack Winter (Team Acer)
2012 IPL5 (Team Acer)
2012 HomeStory Cup VI (Team Acer)
2013 IEM VII World Championship (Team Acer)
2013 MLG Winter Championship (Team Acer)
2013 LCS Europe Spring Week 10 (Team Acer)
2013 WCS EU S1 Ro16 (Team Acer)
2013 LCS Europe Summer Week 9 (Team Acer)
2013 WCS EU S2 final / LCS Europe Summer playoffs (Team Acer)
2013 Riot S3 World Championship (Team Acer)
2013 Battle of the Atlantic (OnGamers)
2013 Battle of the Atlantic (OnGamers)
2014 LCS Europe Spring Week 5 (OnGamers)
2010 IEM IV European Championship (ESL-TV)
2010 IEM IV Asian Finals (ESL-TV)
2010 IEM IV World Championship (ESL-TV)
2010 IEM V Shanghai (ESL-TV)
2011 ESEA-invite S8 (WinOut)
2011 GameGune (WinOut)
2011 SEC (WinOut)
2013 Dreamhack SteelSeries CS:GO Championship (DH-TV)
2014 Dreamhack Steelseries CS:GO Invitational (DH-TV)
2014 Dreamhack Summer (DH-TV)
2014 Gfinity G3
2014 Dreamhack Stockholm CS:GO Invitational (DH-TV)
Pro bono publico:
2010 ESWC (lvl^)
2010 Arbalet Cup Dallas (lvl^)
2010 GameGune (lvl^)
2010 fnatic PLAY (lvl^)
2010 WCG Nordic (SK Gaming)
2011 Dreamhack Winter BEAT IT (whisenhunt)
2011 EPS Winter (whisenhunt/ESL-TV)
2011 WCG (whisenhunt)
2011 IEM VI Kiev EU qualifier (SK Gaming)
2013 FACEIT Sunday Cup April 28th (FACEIT)
2013 Prague Challenge (District)
2013 FACEIT Sunday Cup September 8th (FACEIT)
2013 FACEIT Monday Cup September 9th (FACEIT)
2014 ESEA Invite S15 LAN finals (NiPTV)
* Winner of the Heaven Media 'E-sports Journalist of the year' awards for 2012 and 2013.
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