On September 23, 2016, UC Irvine in California opened up their esports arena. As of July 2018, it remains the largest and most impressive collegiate esports facility. What separates it from other collegiate esports facilities is its purpose. It’s more than an arena, it’s a full-on student body recreation center for esports. There are high end gaming computers for anyone, competitive or casual, to play on. They have viewing areas to watch UCI’s or pro matches. There’s a special area for the varsity team players, many of whom are on scholarship for esports. Its sponsored by ibuypower and houses incredibly high-end gaming PCs that feature Intel’s i7-8700k CPU and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080 8GB and Intel Optane Memory. UCI’s vision going into the ibuypower sponsorship was to not only address the needs of their team but address the needs of the entire esports and gaming communities on campus. Their gaming club had about 400 dues-paying members when they were planning the arena. Currently, a typical sponsorship deal in collegiate esports will be a dozen or so gaming PCs and the occasional prizes to give out for tournaments. These sponsorships address the needs of esports varsity teams but don’t address the needs of collegiate esports holistically. What collegiate esports is, is fragmented. There are many different leagues, organizations, levels of play, and tournaments that pit club teams against varsity teams. What UCI’s arena aims to solve is that fragmentation. All esports players at UCI have a place to play, watch, and participate in their favorite games.
Alienware’s professional training facility for Team Liquid is almost a direct opposite of UCI’s; Alienware’s facility is only for the pro team, and UCI’s is for everyone. It’s the training facility’s purpose that what makes it similar to UCI’s. Alienware’s facility features multiple gaming rooms, video review rooms, lounges, and even a chef onsite with meals provided. Alienware and Team Liquid wanted something that not only promoted both their brands but gave Team Liquid player’s everything they could possibly need to become a better player. The onsite chef makes sure players are getting the right food to keep them sharp. Team Liquid even has fitness regimens for their players. Sound body, sound mind, right? This sponsorship goes beyond just giving Team Liquid some PCs and peripherals and exposure. Teams don’t need more PCs or gear; teams need to win. Alienware targeted the needs of the team, much like ibuypower targeted the needs of UCI and gave them a community center for esports.
These two sponsorships act as a lesson to any company wishing to sponsor teams, whether it’s collegiate or professional. Gone are the days where any team will sell their souls for some PCs, companies looking to increase their branding in the pro scene need to do so in a way that benefits the players, and the community.