SteelSeries, the popular manufacturer of video game peripherals, is an active member of the competitive video game community; designing products with the feedback of professional eSports players, partnering with teams and even signing their own. It came as no surprise, then, that SteelSeries would partner with Virtus Pro, a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) team out of Russia—but with the announcement came another—a new brand engagement strategy.

“Starting with the MLG CS:GO Major this week, our relationship goes far beyond using our products and wearing our logo,” Zach Hill, SteelSeries’ head of marketing stated in the press release. “We’re working together to develop unique high-performance products, and giving our fans a new level of exposure to the lives [of] eSports athletes.”

Virtus Pro player, "TaZ" evaulates SteelSeries mice in 2008.
Virtus Pro player, “TaZ” evaulates SteelSeries mice in 2008.

Travis Hezel, global director of sponsorships elaborates on what that exposure entails. “With Virtus Pro and all of our teams, we try to be their biggest fans,” Hezel told [a]listdaily. “We’ve built a company culture where knowing the basics about CS:GO, Dota 2, etc. is just not enough. We watch streams, talk to players and management on a daily basis, and really look to help the franchises we work with better connect to their fans. So yes, they represent SteelSeries by wearing our logo on their jersey and use our peripherals, but the players are our experts. They are the motivation and heart of our brand – nobody knows what is needed in a gaming peripheral more than these athletes.”

Virtus Pro will continue to help shape the future of SteelSeries products through hands-on testing and evaluation. Hezel explains why this particular team was the perfect choice:

“Having a top tier CS:GO team was a priority for us in 2016. We believe that with all games being equal, [Counter-Strike: Global Offensive] players are the most demanding performance-wise on our products. Some of the athletes on Virtus Pro have had more experience in the design process of gaming peripherals than most franchises (see attached photo of TaZ in 2008). Having their extremely valuable perspective starting at the conceptual level down to mass-production of our next-generation of products will culminate in our customers getting the best possible mouse, keyboard, mousepad or headset we can create.”

Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas, Virtus Pro team captain, whole-heartedly believes in the strategic partnership. “We demand the best possible products while competing, and anything less than excellence isn’t enough by our standards,” TaZ explained in the press release. “With SteelSeries, we have a gear partnership that gives us everything we need to focus on our matches. The opportunity to work with the developers at SteelSeries to create their future devices is one I’m very eager to start.”

“We’re approaching the way we tell our brand and product stories differently in 2016-2017 and not just with Virtus Pro,” Hezel told [a]listdaily. “You will start to see more real and creative ways that we connect the athletes and influencers that we work directly to our customers and fans. It’s much more than wearing our logo and using our products. We’re really excited to be able to show that in the coming months and years.”