New Balance is the latest non-endemic sponsor to hop on board by committing to esports in a big way. The footwear company has teamed with Formula 1 to become the presenting partner for the F1 Esports Pro Series.
According to the press release, New Balance will be “fully integrated” into the three F1 Esports live events and through branded digital content. Competing drivers will also be decked out in New Balance socks and shoes during the tournaments.
Photo Credit: Sports Industry
“New Balance are the global leaders in footwear performance technology and a lifestyle brand that transcends traditional sport,” said Chris Travers, Director of Global Partnerships at Formula 1. “We are thrilled to bring them on board as the Presenting Partner for our inaugural F1 Esports Pro Series: we share the same passion for speed and competition and the desire to reach new audiences. New Balance joins the group of sponsors and partners of F1 Esports Series, which already includes DHL, Fanatec, Codemasters, and Gfinity.”
It’s an auspicious group that New Balance is joining. Clearly, the company sees the promise that the audience for the F1 Esports Series aligns closely with their consumers.
“At New Balance, we firmly believe that our partnerships are a reflection of our values,” said Chris Davis, VP of Global Marketing and Sports Marketing at New Balance. “Partnering with F1 Esports initiative exemplifies our commitment to marketing innovation and creating meaningful connections to consumers who desire premium fan experiences across the world.
“Both New Balance and Formula 1 consistently strive to bring an elevated product to our respective consumer bases – we will collaborate to celebrate craft, thoughtfulness, and sophistication. Formula 1 is a truly global, fearlessly independent, tier 1 sport, with a rabid fan base, eager for speed, competition, and engaging content. The contagious energy of Esports is real, and we couldn’t be more excited to bring this passion to life with the Formula 1 team.”
In March of 2018, F1 Esports announced that all F1 Esports Series teams will be connected to real-world F1 racing teams (this is similar to the structure of the NBA2K League, where every esports team is managed by an actual NBA team). Although the move was somewhat controversial (players who are committed to an existing esports organization are not allowed to participate), it’s entirely possible that the change helped to encourage New Balance to come aboard as a sponsor. Having the F1 teams and the esports teams linked makes it easier for casual observers to watch and understand the sport. It is also more likely that a fan of the real-world Mercedes F1 team, for example, will also become a fan of the esports squad.
Photo Credit: Revival TV
Every current F1 team, with the exception of Ferrari, is going to be a part of the 2018 F1 Esports Series season. The most recent to announce was Mercedes, whose AMG Petronas Motosport team will be housed and train in the same facilities as its professional F1 team.
The Mercedes facility is set to begin construction in the next few weeks. By having the teams share this area, the esports team will have access to all the same benefits as the F1 team, including nutrition specialists and physical conditioning coaches. They will also be able to utilize the Driver-In-Loop Simulator, which is where the F1 drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, race a virtual model of the real-world race car to provide feedback to engineers.
“The new facility will enable the gamers to work on their gaming performance on multiple platforms and further improve their skills,” according to a statement from Mercedes. “The programme also focuses on human performance and will give the esports team members access to the on-site Performance Centre covering the core areas of nutrition, physical conditioning, and wellbeing that support the gamers in reaching their full potential.”
The other squads in the series include Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Esports Team, McLaren Shadow, Renault Sport Team Vitality, Red Bull Racing esports Team, Haas F1 Esports Team, Hype Energy eForce India F1 Esports Team, Toro Rosso Esports Team, and Williams Esports.
Photo Credit: Groupe Renault
To fill out these teams, player selection occurred in two phases. The first was an online competition where thousands of players battled to qualify for a spot in the Pro Draft. The top 40 of those players went on to participate in the draft. The remaining spots on the teams were filled in by recruiting high-ranking players, sort of like free agency.
The F1 Esports Series will begin as a series of offline events and culminate in a live showcase for the championship round. This will take place across October and November in London and consist of three live broadcasted and streamed events. The esports teams collect points in the same format as the F1 world championship. The purse is said to be a pool of at least $200,000.
The F1 Esports Series is a burgeoning league in a rapidly growing industry. It’s great to see another non-endemic sponsor in New Balance join the esports scene. If you’d like more thoughts on sponsoring an esports league or team, give one of our eGency Global pros a call at 972-323-6354.