Germany is famous for many things, but one many may not know of is eSports. Rather than the cliché of growing out of basements, eSports tournament operators developed more out of café culture and can-do business acumen. Seeing that some gamers would visit internet cafes purely to play games, operators spotted a gap in the market and developed a network of local and regional tournaments.
Esports grew in popularity around the mid-1990s. Towards the end of the decade, the first eSports leagues were founded, including the Electronic Sports League (ESL), which emerged from the German Clan League (DeCL), as well as the Clan Base which launched in 1998. Germany would go on to illustrate just how popular eSports had become by hosting the “Gamers’ Gathering”, in 1999. More than 1,600 gamers from around the world attended to compete against each other in various games. Naturally, sponsorship is a big feature of sports. Below is a look at some of the sponsors of eSports in Germany and how companies help shape the eSports scene.
Biggest eSports Sponsors in Germany
Santander offers a range of personal and business banking services, employs more than 200,000 people, has around 157 million customers, and boasts £1,723 billion in assets. All of this makes it a highly valuable sponsor to any eSports competition.
In June 2022, the bank issued a press release stating it would become one of the main sponsors of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and also of the Liga Latinoamerica. All games in the LEC happen live in the studio of Riot Games, in Adlerhof, in Berlin. Anyone not in the small studio audience can follow the action on Twitch or YouTube. The tournament attracts hundreds of thousands of followers. This should not be a surprise as the LEC features the highest level of League of Legends competition.
Paysafecard works in online payments, allowing users to pay safely over the internet by way of a prepaid card, as you can see here. The company started up in the early noughties in Vienna, Austria. Now customers in more than 40 countries can use the card. All they have to do is buy a card, then enter the pin code to make the payment.
In January 2018, the company, a part of the Paysafe Group, reported it had joined the ranks as a sponsor of the biggest esports company. It has become a global payment platform partner for all ESL flagship events and CS:GO League circuits, and also for several national championships and ESL arenas. In the past, this has included ESL One Cologne.
As one of the main sponsors, the support of the company helps foster the development of eSports. The company created its prepayment card with the gaming community in mind, and plenty of Paysafecard casinos online accept the card. The gaming community is one of the segments of the market to have contributed to the company’s success.
Founded in 1753, Warsteiner is family owned and is one of the largest private breweries in Germany. The brand is one of the country’s leading pilsner brands today. You’ll find the company’s headquarters in the Sauerland region, in the state of Westphalia, and wherever you travel, you have a good chance of being able to enjoy the drink as it is served in more than 60 countries.
Just like Paysafecard, Warsteiner has also become an ESL sponsor. Since 2018, the company has sponsored multiple ESL events. In 2019, the brewery sponsored ESL One Cologne and presented a live music show, also sponsored the event in 2020, although world events forced the organizers to move the 2020 competition online. Due to restrictions on alcohol advertising in sports in Germany, the brewery has had to focus on its non-alcoholic offering.
The relationship between competitive gaming and fast food has been a close one, and fast food chain McDonald’s has finally decided to get in on the action. They ended their partnership with the German Football Association and decided to focus on building a relationship with the ESL. In 2018, the company sponsored the ESL Meisterschaft tournament.
Sponsorship by McDonald’s has been huge for eSports in Germany and eSports in general. The company is targeting a younger demographic. This move from sponsorship of more traditional sports such as football to esports is one they feel could help them achieve their aims. It’s a move that has really raised the profile of eSports and more companies may follow suit, which would raise it further.
Esports have long been popular in Germany, but sponsorship is helping to foster even more growth and popularity of eSports. The shift of McDonald’s from football to eSports sponsorship could pave the way for other companies to do the same.
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