Like any well-to-do, inebriated benefactor, Bud Light has stumbled onto the eSports scene — and nothing will ever be the same. Bud Light, the most popular beer in America (or most consumed, anyway), is planning to sponsor a team of eSports all-stars, composed of the top players in the most popular eSport games. This includes players from Dota 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and Heroes of the Storm. This is the latest step in the professionalization and sensationalization of gaming. And it’s even more significant than it sounds.
Representatives of Bud Light will debut a ballot featuring prominent players at this years DreamHack Austin. Fans will then have roughly a month to vote for their favorite players , who will be introduced at E3 in June as the” Bud Light All-Stars.” The all-star team will also be spotlighted on the streaming service Twitch, and appear in a series produced by the YouTube video network Machinima. They will make a competitive debut in San Diego this October at TwitchCon, which runs September 30 thru October 2.
This is big news for eSport’s public perception. Bud Light is one of the biggest sponsors in televised sports, and has a long history of sponsoring emerging sports. Just look at their renewed contract with UFC from 2008, just before UFC became a cultural force.
“We have identified it as a great space because, similar to how we identify in the NFL with fans, eSports fans have that same passion” Bud Light’s digital sports marketing manager, Jesse Wofford told USA Today.
eSports is rapidly growing from a niche market to a global powerhouse. With competitions all around the world, and distributed by unique networks like Twitch and YouTube, eSports is quickly becoming a phenomena. Also, with more than two-thirds of the audience under 35, advertisers are eager to claim a stake in the ever-important “millennial” market.