We have talked and talked about the ways teams make money—sponsorships, sponsorships, sponsorships— but there is another side to the eSports business, the tournament organizers. How do they make their money? Mostly, by getting companies to sponsor their events, the tickets bought by people who want to watch the tournament live and maybe the concessions at the venue. ELEAGUE introduced a new way to get money, however. Unfortunately, it’s not really viable for other tournament organizers like ESL.
What have they done? It turns out that they have sold out arena naming rights to G Fuel. Of course, that’s probably not all included in the deal for an undisclosed amount of money, however, it IS the most interesting part. Held by Turner and and WME | IMG, ELEAGUE built it’s own studio and arena. Just like sports teams, Houston Rockets, for example, sell the name of their arena to some company, in this case Toyota, so did ELEAGUE sold the right to add their brand name into the name of their arena. From now on, it’s called G Fuel ELEAGUE Arena.
This is a great way to make some money, however, it’s not viable for most eSports teams or tournament organizers, at least not yet. Teams are nowhere near big enough to be able to build their own arenas to sell the naming rights off, while tournament organizers hold events all over the world most of the time, renting venues in their chosen destinations. For obvious reasons, there are no naming rights to sell. Turner, however, is different from traditional tournament organizers like ESL. It’s not really interested in coming to other countries and continents, instead, they welcome teams from all over the world on their home turf, allowing them to sell the naming rights to the arena they hold their events at, built specifically for ELEAGUE events with money from non-endemic sources.
Where other organizers have to go around the world to hold their events, ELEAGUE is special because of its close association with TV. They have a rare ace up their sleeve, which more or less guarantees that the best in eSports will want to compete in their events where other organizers would have to go all over the world. This is not for ever, though. If the Overwatch League, introduced by Blizzard Entertainment, goes according to the developer’s plan, city-based teams will have to build their own arenas, except for the cases where their owners have an arena of their own. That isn’t really outside the limits of logic and reason, as several eSports organizations have close ties to NBA teams, whether they are owned or sponsored by them. With localised teams comes the home games, which have to be played somewhere. Naming rights deals for eSports arenas will probably be signed all over the world soon, sooner than we would reasonably expect.