It seems that esports is now a well-connected industry, as the telecom giant AT&T has partnered with influential esports organizer ESL in sponsoring several upcoming mobile video game competitions in North America.
AT&T and ESL held a surprise competition for the popular mobile game Clash Royale with several pro players as part of the announcement of the partnership at the telecom company’s annual Shape tech and entertainment event in Los Angeles.
At the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) from June 12-14 in L.A., AT&T will have a 5G demo and host live competitions at the ESL Arena. The telecom giant will also have a presence at several upcoming events including the Arena of Valor Pro League, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s ESL One New York in September, and the multi-title Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) North America in November.
“AT&T may not be an obvious partner for esports, but the advent of super-fast 5G mobile connections, due to begin becoming readily available later this year, will provide an equalizing foundation for mobile gaming,” said Shiz Suzuki, AT&T assistant vice president for corporate sponsorships.
While AT&T is better known for its involvement in traditional sports, with the NFL team Dallas Cowboys at home in the AT&T Stadium and the MLB team San Francisco Giants in the AT&T Park, it has also expanded into other entertainment sponsorships. After recently taking the Tribeca Film Festival under its wing, AT&T now also has esports in the fold.
“Esports is at the intersection of tech and entertainment, it really also gives us an opportunity to reach that young and diverse audience,” added Suzuki.
Esports has experienced a massive surge in recent years, having acquired a global audience of 335 million in 2017, according to the Entertainment Software Association. With the growth of the industry, many other major companies have taken notice.
While most esports titles and competitions are played on personal computers and console systems, the mobile gaming platform has seen unprecedented growth in the past couple of years. According to the global marketing firm Newzoo, mobile gaming is poised to become a $106.4 billion market by 2021, or around 59% of the entire gaming market.
“We think about the esports of the future and that really is around mobile gaming and the ability to take that experience of low latency and fast speeds and to not be at a disadvantage to be wireless and to take that anywhere,” Suzuki said.
While ESL has long claimed itself to be the world’s largest independent esports company, its partnership with AT&T would significantly increase the company’s influence in the industry.
“AT&T has certainly been an iconic brand in what most people see as traditional sports, we just know the value they could bring to our events, our platform, the fans, the community and the esports athletes themselves. We’re just so happy to have them aboard,” said Mark Cohen, ESL senior vice president for global brand partnerships.