Mercedes-Benz is one of the latest non-endemic sponsors to enter into the esports space. The luxury car maker is partnering with ESL to sponsor several of its flagship events, including ESL One Hamburg 2017, a Dota 2 Major tournament that features a €1,000,000 ($1,188,160 US) prize pool.

“The esports engagement is part of Mercedes-Benz’s sponsoring and marketing portfolio’s new strategic direction,” a Mercedes-Benz spokesperson explained to AListDaily. “After its entry into Formula E, the company thus gives another impulse in a future-oriented field. 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.”

Mercedes-Benz stated that it chose to partner with ESL because it’s owned by the media company MTG (Modern Times Group) and it operates high-profile branded international and national stadium-sized tournaments such as the Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and ESL National Championships, in addition to grassroots amateur cups and leagues.

“ESL covers a broad field of services in gaming technology, event management, advertising and television production, fully catering to the needs of the esports ecosystem,” the spokesperson said. “With offices in North America, Germany, Russia, France, Poland, Spain and China and partners in many other countries, it has a truly global footprint. As a result, we have identified ESL as the perfect partner to enter the esports segment.”

Bernhard Mogk, senior vice president of global sales and business development at ESL, described to AListDaily about what the involvement of a brand like Mercedes-Benz means for the continued growth of esports.

“The partnership with Mercedes represents an important next step for the esports market, and as such, this development marks a crucial step for the growth of esports and ESL,” said Mogk. “Mercedes and other major non-endemic brands we’re working with are starting to recognize esports as a valid strategy to engage with one of the most attractive and valuable communities in the world: the esports fans. We’re definitely excited to see what kind of activations and engagement Mercedes will bring to the fans, and are looking forward to inspiring more non-endemic partners to follow this example.”

Mercedes-Benz said that it has been following the growth of esports for some time.

“Fans of esports are between 18-and-34-years-old on a global average, and thus a very interesting target group for Mercedes-Benz,” said the spokesperson. “Esports is the perfect tool to reach these millennials. Through esports, we win access to future customers to make them aware of the brand, products and services.”

According to Mogk, the partnership will primarily focus on ESL One tournaments, which are ESL’s flagship tournaments. The most recent event was ESL One Cologne, which attracted over 14,000 visitors and recorded over 62 million online sessions.

“It’s safe to say that events like that offer an incredibly attractive platform for brands to reach and interact with the fans of the world’s fastest growing sport,” said Mogk.

He also added that Mercedes-Benz and ESL have a common heritage, being two brands born in Germany but are growing and expanding to reach a fully global presence.

Discussing how a luxury car brand fits into an esports setting, Mercedes-Benz said, “Our wide-ranging international commitment to sports allows us to accommodate the interests of our diverse target groups. As a brand, we maintain close contact with our customers, are able to build up empathy and to become an accepted part of their world. We are firmly of the opinion that this new involvement will complement our existing sports sponsoring activities with an eye on the future and allow us to make contact with a very interesting, new target group.”

“The key word here is ‘sports,’” said Mogk. “Mercedes is committed to sports, and that commitment has always been an integral part of their DNA. Over the years, the brand has shown an incredible commitment to delivering quality engagements and memorable activations. They can be credited with a long and rich experience in sports sponsoring, with partnerships spread across multiple areas, ranging from football to tennis, sailing and F1. Through those engagements, the brand has always been the partner of the very best in each class.”