On Thursday, Oct. 19, the New York Yankees announced an investment partnership with Vision Esports. For those not familiar, Vision Esports is the parent company of Twin Galaxies, Vision Entertainment and Echo Fox. Twin Galaxies conducts gaming promotions in relation to esports. Vision Entertainment is a studio that creates esports coverage content. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Echo Fox is a professional esports organization that is owned by NBA champion Rick Fox.
According to a statement on the investment that was published on the New York Yankees’ Twitter account, the Yankees “will bring their considerable marketing, sales, and partnership experience to help all three companies accelerate their growth and expand their business relationships”.
While the amount of the investment wasn’t disclosed in the statement, this investment partnership necessitates attention from the entire esports community. Whether you’re a casual viewer or professional player, this partnership is capable of changing the public perception of esports. Let’s talk about how and why.
The Sweet Taste of Brand Recognition
Whether you’re a fan of them or not, the name of the New York Yankees is huge in regards to its recognition. Simply having a professional esports organization like Echo Fox be financially associated with such a huge brand as the New York Yankees is going to make heads turn towards Echo Fox, other esports organizations and esports as a whole.
Despite growing quite rapidly, all esports continue to find its footing in the mainstream. Many of us want esports to be as universally recognized and accepted as traditional sports are. Having large, recognizable names and brands such as the New York Yankees is going to help publicize esports. With more publicity from recognizable brands, esports will be introduced to more and more people.
This partnership is an incredible first step towards a brighter future for esports. Since the New York Yankees have thrown their hat in the ring of esports, other large traditional sports organizations may do so as well. This partnership between the New York Yankees and Vision Esports has essentially opened the floodgates for more partnerships like this to become a reality.
There is now precedence for other large recognizable sports organizations to partner with esports organizations. We could see other traditional sports use their brands to strengthen the publicity and success of esports.
Many people, whether they’re fans of esports or not, tend to think of esports and traditional sports as two separate entities that don’t necessarily fit in together. This partnership can help end that divide. If traditional sports and esports organizations continue to partner with each other, the distinct line between traditional sports and esports may begin to thin.
Not only can this make esports more mainstream, but it can also make esports as equally accepted and embraced as traditional sports.
Familiarizing a Foreign Landscape
The most intriguing part of the announcement of this partnership is seeing the perspective of Rick Fox, owner of the esports organization Echo Fox. In an interview with Forbes, which you can watch here, Fox talks about how fast esports organizations are growing.
Since starting Echo Fox in 2015, the organization has grown from only having one team that played League of Legends, to now having 11 total teams. Echo Fox’s teams now cover a diverse array of games, ranging from fighting games to MOBAs and FPS games.
Such growth occurred for Echo Fox without the partnership of such a large organization such as the New York Yankees. Now that Echo Fox has the partnership with such a large brand, Echo Fox will likely accelerate in its growth.
Since esports on their own have been growing so rapidly over the course of the last ten years, having partnerships and support from large organizations can cause esports to become only bigger, and at a faster rate, no less.
After the interview with Fox, Forbes Executive Editor Michael Ozanian described esports as “the wild, wild west”. Ozanian refers to the newness of esports in addition to the rapid commercial growth that esports is experiencing. Ozanian’s comparison of esports being the “wild, wild west” of sports is both fascinating and fitting.
Esports, in a sense, is quite unpredictable. New games come in almost all the time. Just since the beginning of 2016, new games releasing caused the emergence of new esports, such as with “Street Fighter V”, “Overwatch”, and “Tekken 7”. There are constantly new games, new competitive scenes, new rules, new competitions and new organizations coming out of esports.
To many, all of this newness is both overwhelming and isolating. There’s so much new stuff coming out of esports that many people simply don’t know where to start with getting into esports.
This is where partnerships with large recognizable brands come into play. The thing with traditional sports is that it’s tried and true. Baseball’s been around for over a century and hasn’t dramatically changed over that time. People find comfort in this.
If we can have a large baseball organization like the New York Yankees guiding its fans into the realm of esports, through their partnership with Vision Esports, it will help make fans of traditional sports become more open to and perhaps even fans of esports.
The next few months are going to be quite fun and exciting, to say the least. All of the points I’ve brought up above are all possible, but we’ll obviously have to see exactly how the partnership between the New York Yankees and Vision Esports exactly plays out. If what I’m saying does indeed happen, and this partnership allows traditional sports fans to become fans of esports and vice versa, then I can easily see more traditional sports organizations partnering with esports companies.
This partnership is an interesting testing ground for partnerships between traditional sports and esports, and I truly hope it only leads to more, similar relationships in due time.
Featured image courtesy of Rick Fox.
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