On the heels of its acquisition by Axiomatic, Team Liquid has signed its first non-endemic sponsor, Monster Energy. The energy drink maker is working with the team and its players just as it does with extreme athletes around the world. Team Liquid’s director of operations, Mike Milanov, told [a]listdaily that the energy drink category is very important to Team Liquid because these companies are sponsoring events and teams around the world.
“We wanted to find a partner that worked well with our writing staff and video content creators,” Milanov said. “Monster cares about winning and supporting our players directly, and giving them tools to win. What they do with extreme games and what they do with sponsoring the most prestigious athletes worldwide is impressive. That brand is on your wish list if you’re a pro sports organization.”
Team Liquid, which is owned by Steve Arhancet and Victor Goossens, began conversations with Matt Simpson, the director of eSports and gaming at Monster back in March at the energy drink’s LA headquarters. “What’s cool about Monster is that when they came into eSports they sponsored Alliance, Envyus, Fnatic and Evil Geniuses and they’ve never let go of those teams or partnerships,” Milanov said. “Knowing that history was attractive to us. We liked how they were running their eSports division.”
Team Liquid and Monster had multiple meetings around the world at eSports events in London, Malmo and Germany. Monster is also a major sponsor of DreamHack. Milanov said these meetings allowed the brand to learn about Team Liquid’s team and infrastructure.
In addition to providing players with product, Monster has also spent some one-on-one time with players to promote across social media or provide video resources when a new player comes onto the roster. “Monster is close partners with Razer, which is another company we’ve been with for a long time—seven years next year,” said Milanov. “They also do work with HTC, which is one of our partners. Monster integrates well with our existing partners and this deal also opens up cross-promotional opportunities.”
Milanov said that since Monster attends every single eSports event, they’re always around to help out the team, even when they lose like at the recent IEM Oakland event.
“Despite the team not progressing to the arena stage, Matt Simpson still wants to take the team out to dinner and forge that relationship,” Milanov said. “Any time we have a boot camp in Holland or LA or NY or Korea, he’ll always ask how we’re preparing for the event or check to see if there are video opportunities and stories they need to tell. Monster has contractors all over the world—they send professional photographers and do a lot of written articles and cool recap and highlight videos.” Additionally, the energy drink maker has Team Liquid team profiles and social media integration on MonsterEnergy.com.
Milanov said this is the team’s first non-endemic partnership, but certainly not the last. Axiomatic has been working closely with Team Liquid to expand the brand. “They care about the brand deeply at Axiomatic,” explained Milanov. “One of the ways [of expanding the brand] is attracting non-endemic business. There’s a wishlist of things we’d love to get from the partnership. They have great relationships from Mandalay Entertainment and the Golden State Warriors, for example. Our goal is to do some of the first non-endemic partnerships with a Nike or adidas or do something with airlines or credit cards like the traditional MLB, NBA or NFL deals. We’re looking at those and we’ve been working with our investors to map out what our new level of strategic partnerships look like.”
Team Liquid has no plans to alienate its current partners. Milanov said the team is in this for the long haul, having worked with Alienware for six years and HyperX and HTC for three years. “We’re never going to drop those companies because they’ve brought us to where we are today,” Milanov said. “We’re looking to add new non-endemics.”
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