Yesterday, this column declared OpTic Gaming to be the masters of esports branding.
Today, a game OpTic is not part of, League of Legends, is declared the best game for esports branding.
Remember the lesson from yesterday: OpTic is great because the team doesn't stretch into too many games. OpTic knows their niche and hammers that home by constantly reinvesting into console shooters.
For other multi-game brands, though, the biggest opportunity to get noticed and receive exposure is still League of Legends. Despite its faults, Riot Games' league is still a juggernaut when it comes to viewership and overall stability despite internal problems or public disagreements with team owners.
Just take what Mike "hastr0" Rufail, owner and managing director of Team EnVyUs, said on Twitter yesterday:
To put this into perspective, we could win 3 CSGO majors in a row and still not equal the gain (or mitigate potential loss) or our LCS spot.— Mike Rufail (@hastr0) April 3, 2017
Think about that.
The owner of the world champion Call of Duty team, a team that's won CS:GO majors and currently has one of if not the best Overwatch team in the world, says the economic impact of losing that spot is more than winning consecutive majors.
The LCS commands prices for slots that are worth several CS:GO majors in prize money. This does not mean 1:1 that LoL necessarily gives teams the best return on their investment, but it does reinforce the fact that LoL still provides the best opportunities for branding and exposure which is driving team sponsorship investment at the moment.
Losing an LCS spot essentially means not only losing the physical price of the slot itself, but also three full months of visibility with two guaranteed televised matches a week. And even then, as we saw in EnVyUs' case, finishing in last place does not mean that a team is automatically kicked out of the league.
Even other wildly popular esports are missing out on not having a league in order to stabilize teams. There's a reason that enthusiasm for static league spots is so high for unproven games, with Overwatch League spots rumored to be worth tens of millions of dollars already.
Sports investors have an appetite for stable, traditional sports-like leagues, and until a better, more popular sports-like league comes along, the LCS will continue to be the best place to get noticed as an esports brand.
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