With eSports continuing to grow at an impressive rate, it should be no surprise that SteelSeries, a company that makes high-quality headsets and peripherals, has announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with the gaming team at Winterfox. The team, which specializes in the team-based shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, will train alongside the SteelSeries team in an effort to hone their skills, while spreading word about the company’s products at the same time.
“Our core product and brand values were formed as a combination of our original company DNA and years of meeting industry demands,” said Travis Hezel, SteelSeries’ Global Director of Sponsorships, in a press release earlier in the week. “The Winterfox project addresses a multitude of those values that will progress eSports as a whole, and how sponsors like Steelseries interact with customers, bringing new product developments and more personal connections with eSports athletes.”
[a]listdaily spoke with SteelSeries global director of sponsorships, Travis Hezel, about what made the partnership so appealing. “Well, for some companies they are taking the first step into the landscape but we’ve been here since our inception back in 2001 with the original Icemat,” he explained. “Without selling through those at CPL, we wouldn’t be here today. Since then, we’ve continued to work alongside with players and teams to create the best possible products specifically catered to in-game needs. For us, they’re the most important part of our DNA as a peripheral company.”
As for having a second team come to SteelSeries headquarters, Hezel said, “Having the Winterfox guys come in-house and train from our office was a passion project we had all discussed at-length for quite some time. Flying players to meet with our R&D team annually was always something we held in very high value, but having a team downstairs where we can get immediate feedback at the conceptual level on ideas is priceless.”
“For the players, we’re making sure they have everything they possibly could want. We’ve even put together noise-cancelling headphones for them to practice with before events so they’re absolutely prepared before heading to offline competitions. By this time next year, they’ll improve immensely and hopefully we’ll get to see some Winterfox stickers in game.”
“With the Winterfox roster in-house we’re getting the chance to build a new lineup of products from the ground up with daily input coming from them and overarching input from the rest of our teams globally. By this time next year we’ll be introducing the best products we’ve ever produced,” said Hezel, explaining where SteelSeries is benefiting from the deal.
The team is already hard at work. “Right now Winterfox is competing online in ESEA Invite, CEVO Professional, FaceIt, and Starladder. They’re all now playing full-time, so if there’s a tournament to play in, you can find them there. As for offline events, they just attended IBP Cup and RGN Playoffs in Santa Ana, CA. Hopefully they’ll continue to perform online and qualify for their next round of offline events soon. This, on top of what they’re doing with SteelSeries, should keep them busy for some time.”
When asked about the growth of eSports, Hezel is confident. “The possibilities are endless, to be honest. Having a sold out League of Legends Finals in Madison Square Garden a few weeks back is a huge milestone. Between the new ‘superleagues’ being formed [between ESL Gaming and TBS] for CS:GO, LCS for League of Legends, and the new major season for DOTA 2, things are only going to continue to get bigger in scale. We’re all excited to see how things continue to evolve.”