Intel and eSports organizer and production company ESL have announced this week a commitment to invest at least $100 million to "shape the future landscape of eSports through innovative technology, tournaments and events" through 2021 in what the companies described as "the biggest brand and technology eSports partnership in history." That's a lot of money, but it almost doesn't seem like it when you consider the duo's belief that eSports will become a billion-dollar industry. Almost.
This partnership isn't new. Intel and ESL have worked together on the Intel Extreme Masters tournament series for Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and other titles since 2006. Intel also sponsors the ESL One circuit for CS:GO and Dota 2, the ESL Pro League for CS:GO and the multi-tourney Intel Grand Slam that challenged CS:GO teams to win four of 10 events in 2018 in exchange for $1 million and gold bars engraved with their names.
The extended partnership will continue to cover those events and challenges. But it will also "introduce eSports to new regions of the globe, including the hosting and introduction of large scale eSports events in certain countries within the APAC region," to help the companies attract the attention of even more eSports fans. At this point saying that Intel and ESL plan to be the juggernauts of the eSports industry would be an understatement.
Intel and ESL said in its announcement that the chipmaker will also remain these events' official Global Technical Partner. That means systems used at ESL tournaments will feature Intel Core i9 CPUs, the production staff's equipment will be outfitted with Intel Xeon processors and new technologies like 5G wireless will be trialed at certain events. It's a typical arrangement: ESL reduces its equipment costs and Intel gets a lot of advertising.
Intel and ESL also provided an update of the partnership's recent successes:
- On average, ESL attracted up to 15,000 daily visitors to 10 mega-events in 2018.
- In 2018, Intel Extreme Masters and ESL One powered by Intel in Katowice, Poland, the world’s largest eSports event each year, saw 169,000 fans in attendance onsite and 3.4 billion minutes of content consumed online.
- For over 10 years, ESL has operated the biggest internatinal circuit of eSports events, including a series of 73 different Intel Extreme Masters live events that spanned across North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, China, Southeast Asia and Australia. In 2019,IEM Sydney will become the 75th installment for the circuit.
So it's not hard to see why both companies would decide to extend their relationship. They've had a lot of success over the last 15 years; investing another $100 million to continue leading the eSports industry makes sense from that perspective. And it's not like Intel's putting all of its golden eggs in one basket either, because it's also reached sponsorship deals with the Overwatch League as well as The NBA 2K League.