Formula 1, golf, tennis… and now also esports. Since the end of last year, Mercedes-Benz is sponsoring not only traditional sports, but also a competitive video game tournament series as partner of the ESL One.

Esports is clearly no longer on the fringes but very attractive for sponsors such as Mercedes-Benz: Double-digit growth rates, sold out stadiums across the globe, yearly prize pools of over 100 Million Euros and almost 500 Million streaming hours watched per month all show the increasing significance of esports.

After the sponsorship of ESL One Hamburg in October 2017, the sponsoring of tournaments of Mercedes-Benz continues with the ESL One in Katowice, the first Dota 2 major tournament in Poland ever. Sixteen of the world’s best Dota 2 teams are playing for 1 million US dollar prize money.

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In the run-up to the tournament, we talked to Jens Thiemer, Vice President Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars, about the success achieved so far and the upcoming tournament in Poland.

The questionnaire looks like this:

  • As a new sponsor in esports, which opportunities do you see for Mercedes-Benz?
  • How does eSports Sponsoring differ from traditional sport sponsoring?
  • How where the first experiences as an esports sponsor?
  • How did the fans react to Mercedes-Benz’ sponsorship acitvities?
  • How important is ESL ONE Katowice 2018 for Mercedes-Benz?
  • How big is the potential of esports?

You can now listen to Jens Thiemer’s answers or read the full interview below:

Esports is a huge trend. As a new sponsor in eSports, which opportunities do you see for Mercedes-Benz?

Jens Thiemer: First of all, esports is the perfect tool for reaching young people. It is an important piece, which is a big part in our branded entertainment initiatives. It is an enhancement for our brand in reaching and gaining enthusiasm into new target groups and therefore, I think we are very well positioned with our plan to support esports in a substantial way for the future.

ESL One Katowice 2018 - Mercedes-Benz

Pictures taken in context of ESL One Katowice 2018

How does esports sponsoring differ from traditional sports sponsoring?

Jens Thiemer: Compared to many sport structures you would consider as more traditional – take soccer, take tennis or other things – eSports is much more dynamic. Esports is offering us a lot of flexibility, so we don’t find ourselves in a situation where we just act as a pure sponsor. We can act as a real partner. For me, it is one of the perfect examples for being a co-creational partner for big tournaments. We are partnering for example with the Electronic Sports League, the ESL, which is giving us great possibilities to create real value for the target group.

The collaboration with die ESL started last year in Hamburg. How where the first experiences as an esports sponsor?

Jens Thiemer: For us, this was a complete success. Per day, we were not only meeting more than ten thousand attendees, fans and of course, we were seeing millions of fans on the streaming portals, but in addition we were able to test out a new activation. For example, we added a new thing: Wwe call it the Mercedes MVP – the Most Valuable Player. We honoured the best player of the tournament, the fans were voting for it and in addition, it was not just the honour which was given to the player, but we could also give a completely new Mercedes-Benz car to the MVP which was highly appreciated as you can imagine.

ESL One Katowice 2018 - Mercedes-Benz

Pictures taken in context of ESL One Katowice 2018

How did the fans react to Mercedes-Benz’ sponsorship acitvities??

Jens Thiemer: We are one of the very rare companies which is not perceived as the so-called endemic sponsors in that surrounding; we are a completely new player in that field. I was absolutely positively surprised about the very positive feedback we received. I think we are partner on eye level with the esports community. It is amazing how that community gets directly in touch with new partners as us and appreciate its commitment to esports in general.

The first Dota-2-Major tournament is about to take place in Katowice. How important is this particular tournament for Mercedes-Benz?

Jens Thiemer: Katowice has been the epicentre for European esports for quite a while. That is due to the Intel Extreme Masters which was Europe’s first big esports event ever. With that tournament in the last years, the city has been building a reputation as a place that is open to modern technology and especially also to youth culture. Katowice has established itself by hosting that tournament for quite a while. Therefore, we are very proud to be an additional partner of the first Dota-2-Major-Tournament in this great city.

ESL One Katowice 2018 - Mercedes Benz

Pictures taken in context of ESL One Katowice 2018

A lot of experts see esports as a hype that is just beginning. Do you agree with this?

I absolutely agree. Esports is a mass phenomenon, if you look on the numbers of competitive gamers worldwide. You see rising and rising figures all around the world, you see enormous price money, you see millions of viewers on streaming portals and it is just a fascinating platform. I am – as many experts – convinced that one day esports will be bigger than soccer today and it has not reached its fullest potential yet. There will be many more things to come.

Thank you for your time, Jens.

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This interview was provided by Mercedes-Benz and all4radio.