Riding off a string of successful competitive leagues and tournaments in Australia, the eSports scene Down Under has managed to snag themselves a major partner. Australian Bank, St. George Bank, will be working in partnership with ESL Australia to sponsor the second season of the ESL AU & NZ Championships for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
This is the first instance of a bank working with the eSports industry in Australia, as well as one of the few times a business outside of an electronics or gaming market in the region has promoted the concept of professional gaming.
Naturally Nick Vanzetti, Managing Director of ESL Australia, was ecstatic about this development, saying:
“We are delighted to bring St. George on board with us as the inaugural Presenting Partner of our ESL AU & NZ Championship. Recognition of eSports within Australia has progressed as the audience has grown immensely in recent years, and the support of an organisation such as St. George is a key milestone on the journey of eSports within the region.”
To mark the start of this partnership, St. George will be putting up a $35,000 prize pool for the competitors in the AU/NZ Championships. Compared to some prize pools for global tournaments, $35,000 may seem small. However, for the Australian scene this sum of money is a significant injection into the tournament scene. Money isn’t everything though, and the implications of this partnership go well beyond monetary contribution.
ESports On the rise
While a nice pot of money is always a fantastic reward for the players involved, St. George partnering up with the competitive gaming scene in Australia is a massive step for eSports in the country. In his appreciation of the rising prominence of the electronic sports scene Ross Miller, General Manager of St. George Bank, said:
“We’re really excited to be the first bank to jump on board this fantastic partnership with ESL Australia. We are seeing a large and growing number of St. George customers embrace online games every month. Even in my household, it’s not just the kids playing and watching online games. Gaming connects all generations and St. George is proud to support this emerging trend and be part of the eSports community.”
Having such a large Australian company show support of the scene and speak highly of it marks Australia’s major breakthrough into an audience outside of it’s typical market. Through St. George’s advertisement of its new investment, it will potentially attract a wide range of Australians to eSports, or at the very least make them aware of the growing scene that is developing rapidly.
Likewise, the younger fans of professional gaming will see St. George’s contribution and may choose to sign on with the bank as a result of these investments. The partnership between ESL Australia and St. George Bank is one which benefits both parties, and healthy partnerships such as this will likely create interest for similarly large businesses to also invest in the Australian eSports scene.
ESports In The Headlines
Having a big investor and partner in St. George Bank will also likely attract the attention of traditional media outlets and networks. In the past year, we have seen eSports make significant gains outside of their usual target audiences. ESPN and Yahoo! Sports, on top of other major sites, have full-fledged departments devoted to covering competitive gaming.
ESPN, in particular, made a significant gamble and broadcasted the Evolution 2016 Street Fighter V Finals LIVE on ESPN2. Scoring over 200,000 viewers with this broadcast, accompanied by what was a continuous stream of positive feedback through Twitter hashtags, the gamble was an outstanding success. It indicated that professional gaming did have a place on the mainstage of television broadcast.
It hasn’t just been ESPN who has begun televising eSports. United States media giant Turner Entertainment broadcasted the first season of CS:GO’s E-League and achieved enough success to warrant greenlighting a second season, which is set to begin on September 7.
These successes on television in the USA may escalate to broadcasting rights bidding should eSports continue to surge in popularity and viewership, mimicking how television companies bid for rights to major sporting events. Fox Sports Australia has begun covering League of Legends and CS:GO on their website, and it may only be a matter of time before it evolves into much more.
The partnership between St. George Bank and ESL Australia is huge, and will play a vital part in attracting big names to sponsor and promote the domestic scene. With the potential waiting on the doorstep, Shine+ will stand with Australian eSports fans in eagerly anticipating just how large the scene will develop Down Under.
Interested in checking out what all the fuss is about? The St. George ESL AUNZ Championships airs every Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00pm AEST on the ESL CS:GO Twitch channel. The first week has already begun, so make sure not to miss any more of the action!
Featured Image: ESL Gaming
WORDS BY HAYDEN FITZGERALD