As eSports continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, rivaling some traditional sports, more non-endemic brands are getting on board to speak to the hard-to-reach millennial audience. Whether it’s Coca-Cola and Gillette sponsoring events and players, or current and former members of the NBA and NFL purchasing eSports teams, there’s no doubt that non-endemic brands are finding different ways to enter the space.

But what should brands keep in mind as they look to get into eSports? [a]listdaily asked a group of industry insiders about what advice they have for brands as they get into the space.

The first ELeague hosted its first CS:GO Major this past weekend on January 27-29, with the sold out Major Grand Final taking place in the historic Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. According to a press release, the ELeague Major Grand Final was the first event in the history of Twitch to surpass one million concurrent viewers. That demonstrates the reach of Turner’s eSports endeavor, which broadcasts tournaments on TBS, and has fast become known for bringing non-endemic sponsors into the space.

“We’ve had a great experience with non-endemic brands entering the eSports space through ELeague,” said Christina Alejandre, general manager of ELeague and VP of eSports at Turner Sports. “Ultimately, it’s important to be authentic to the community. This is an incredibly passionate fan base and the brands that have excelled have created compelling content that resonates and sparks engagement with our audience. In short: if you embrace the eSports audience, they will embrace you right back.”

HyperX, a high-end PC gaming accessory and technology company, is a major ELeague sponsor and had a presence at the CS:GO Major. We asked Daniel Kelley, director of corporate marketing at HyperX, if he had any advice for brands that are considering eSports integration.

“My biggest words of advice would be to take the time to understand the scene,” said Kelley. “Don’t just jump in with both feet because you can see that there’s a very vibrant audience there that might fit your demographic of what you’re trying to do to sell your products or services. There’s definitely an understanding that needs to take place if you want to come into the scene and community—if you want to take part, stand for something, and get integrated in a way that I think most marketers and brands want to be. It’s a very unique space that takes pride in its uniqueness. There’s a language that’s spoken, there are ways that content is consumed, and there are events that are a little bit different from the norm.”

Kelley continued by saying, “I think that taking the time to understand it and finding the best way to appreciate it and then play your part as a brand or product in the space would be the best first approach. There’s plenty of growth that I’m sure is attractive, and there will be more brands. Looking at the last 12 months, the number of non-endemics jumping into the space is pretty mind-blowing. It’s only going to continue to grow.”

Vasos Roberts, vice president of sales at FaceIt had this to say:

“I think there are a few key things that come to mind. One of which is whether or not their approach or strategy is adding value to the scene or the communities within it. The way to ensure value is through the activations of any campaigns or sponsorships that they create or invest in. Another key element, and this is a word that is thrown around a lot right now but it is highly important, is ‘authenticity.’ Naturally, there are media buy opportunities in this space, but I believe that brands who see that as the only option for them will not maximize their investment. In addition, those brands that try to buy market share by investing large money for the most amount of exposure possible, without a considered approach, could have a detrimental effect on their opportunity.

ESports communities are highly passionate and have no hesitation in sharing their thoughts, good or bad, publicly. If a brands actions don’t resonate, that will quickly come to the surface. Lastly, I would say this, take time to choose the right partners to work with and once you have selected them, listen to their advice. There are many organizations that have a huge amount of experience in the eSports ecosystem and have in-depth knowledge of the many nuances within communities and products. If brands select the right partners, they will be able to advise them on what will and won’t work. It is understandable that brands want to put their own stamp on things, but consider the advice from the experts.”

The Hi-Rez Expo, which took place in early January at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted three tournaments featuring the games Smite in separate PC and console tournaments and the fast-growing shooter, Paladins.

“As an industry, we’re finding that as more non-endemic sponsors come to events like these and experience the fan base, they’re beginning to understand that the enthusiasm they might have had as children around football, basketball or baseball are just as strong with these fans around our games—and that this is the future,” Stewart Chisam, president of Hi-Rez Studios, told [a]listdaily at the event. “My general advice is to get people to events like this, sit with them, talk with them about how these fans are engaged with eSports.”

Following the announcement of the Activision Blizzard Media Networks in 2015, the game publisher threw support behind eSports in a big way. The company purchased of Major League Gaming (MLG) one year ago, and then went on to sell out the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio with the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship event.

Josh Cella, head of sales at MLG, offered this advice to brand sponsors:

“There is uncharted terrain in both broadcast integration as well as event activation. The fans want to see brands come in and take a thoughtful approach, which includes celebrating the games, the pros and being authentic to the culture. There is also a significant amount of creative executions that have yet to be developed. That is what is exciting for us.”

Matt Wolf, Christina Alejandre and Todd Harris (Hi-Rez Studios) will be speaking at the [a]list summit. Learn everything you need to know to invest in today’s fastest-growing media channel—Competitive Gaming and eSports on 2.16.17 in Los Angeles. Go to for more info.