Going Mainstream with eSports Players and Teams

February 9, 2017 / by Jesse Ghiorzi

iStock-538599388.jpgAs eSports continues to grow, one major lingering question remains: What will it take for eSports to reach the casual fan and cross over into the mainstream? 

For the die-hards, close matchups, great stats and in-game storylines are enough of a hook. But to attract casual fans, there needs to be something more. The players have to crossover because of their personalities, interests and activities away from the sport.

Here are three ways leagues and teams put their talent in a position to reach new and more fans.

Athlete branding

Branding is more than logos, nicknames and appearances, it’s an authentic and unique message about who you are and what you stand for. This is how persons become personalities – in a genuine and honest way, never manufactured. Finding out what makes a player tick and why, opens up opportunities in public relations, social media, broadcasts and other spaces. Every athlete has a brand, and the best athletes, teams, leagues and partners make sure theirs is telling the right story.

Youth development 

Children are the future, right? Young talent in any sport is a preview of what’s to come and vital to the long-term success of a league or team. It takes thousands of hours to get to the professional level in any sport, but that’s spent just playing the game, not on the business side of things. In 2017, there’s a lot more that goes into being a pro athlete outside of game time. NASCAR has an annual Driver Development Seminar, all 32 NFL teams have their own rookie acclimation programs, the NBA has its Rookie Orientation. Preparing your young stars for what to expect when they don’t have a controller in their hands is a vital step to starting their careers off right.

Sponsorship consulting

Taylor Swift said it best, “Players gonna play play play play play.” That’s what you pay them to do. However, when it comes time to close a deal for a new category, and the company’s CEO wants to talk to the talent, the deal can fall apart. It’s important to coach your players on the business side of eSports so they’re as comfortable in a board room as they are an in arena. 

The most powerful leagues and teams recognize investing in the star power of their most valuable asset – the players – is also an investment in themselves. The fans connect to players and the players connect them to the teams they represent and leagues the play in.

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