T-Mobile enters the esports industry by sponsoring two top-tier North American orgs—Team Solo Mid and Cloud9!
Posted on Aug 18, 2017 by Brad McCabe

You know a sponsor’s big when two North American powerhouses announce it at the same time! The news that both Cloud9 and TSM are going to partner up with T-Mobile came up on the teams’ official websites. What does a sponsor like this bring to the League of Legends scene?

Reaching the Audience

If you don’t know what T-Mobile is, it’s a major wireless network operator, and its massive customer base of 72.6 million makes the third largest wireless carrier in the US. A few years ago an esports org securing a sponsorship from a giant like that would be unthinkable. Yet here we are, in the year 2017, where everything is seemingly within reach.

The news doesn’t exactly come out of the blue either. 

The recent introduction of franchising to the regions of China and North America resulted in an economic boom in the League of Legends scene, and many sponsors and investors have expressed interest in getting a slice of the esports pie. With the 2017 World Championship securing massive sponsors like Mercedes-Benz and L’Oréal, we’re likely entering the golden era of professional gaming. 

Of course, it would be disingenuous to credit everything to LCS franchising alone. Both TSM and Cloud9 are huge organizations with long-standing histories of competitive success over a variety of games. Sure, League of Legends might be the biggest esport, but scenes like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota2, Overwatch, and Hearthstone shouldn’t be disregarded either.

In the end, anyone willing to invest in the esport industry reaches a valuable demographic of males, aged 18-44. And considering that T-Mobile is already providing a product that’s interesting to such a group, a concrete investment is the next logical step to take. Of course, not everything is sunshine and rainbows in the world of sponsorships. 

Major backers will likely want to see significant returns from their investments—otherwise, they simply wouldn’t bother. And this means more ads, more player involvement, and less practice time. In the past, TSM and Cloud9 have had great success balancing their competitive presence with contractual obligations. 

But as the number of sponsorships grows, juggling these might prove more difficult than esports orgs initially anticipated. Still, this is very much a positive development for the scene. More money equals more growth, and that means getting to witness the rapid evolution of the esports scene extend even further. And, really, what could we want more than that?

Article by Daniil Volkov as posted on Real Sport 101.

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