D.C. Events, Washington’s official convention and sports authority have sponsored NRG Esports as they aim to put Washington on the proverbial esports map.
As reported by Mashable, the sponsorship will see the Washington D.C. logo feature prominently on teams’ jerseys and on the NRG website. In addition, it will host NRG bootcamps in the future.
The wide-ranging interview with Events D.C. Chairman Max Brown also reveals plans for a “$65m (£52.3m), 4,200-seat, state-of-the-art-arena” that is set to be ready in late-2018/early 2019 and will be “fully tailored and wired for esports”. Whilst it’s being built with esports in mind, it will primarily be the home of WNBA team Washington Mystics.
Whilst Blizzard have yet to offer further clarity on the Overwatch League that was announced last year, it has been established that they’re looking to adopt a regionalised approach to esports which is seldom seen in the industry.
Andy Miller, co-owner of NRG dismissed claims that this was a commitment to representing D.C. in the Overwatch League. “We’re not the D.C. NRG,” Miller told Mashable before adding: “But we will be spending a bunch of time down there, we will definitely be bootcamping down there.”
Whilst the regional approach set to be deployed by Blizzard has faced staunch criticism, Miller mentioned: ” I do think this [sponsorship] is a validation for the city-based approach that they’re trying to put together.”
NRG was founded in 2015 by Gerard Kelly and Sacramento Kings co-owners Miller and Mark Mastrov. Since then Alex Rodriguez, Shaquille O’Neal and Jimmy Rollins have all become high-profile investors in the brand. They house one of the strongest Overwatch rosters which includes popular streamer Brandon “Seagull” Larned. In addition they compete in CS:GO, Hearthstone, Rocket League, Super Smash Bros, Smite and mobile esport Vainglory.
The phrase “esports capital of the world” has been casually thrown about at a whim over the last year. Las Vegas, Nevada now considers itself the home of UFC and the region is looking to make similar tracks in the wonderful world of esports. With the truly global nature of esports it’s unlikely that one area will be able to call itself the “home” for the foreseeable future but with continued investment it could eventually become a reality.
Esports Insider says: This is most definitely a first in esports. It’s a different type of partnership, but a very exciting one nonetheless. Congratulations to NRG and D.C. events – we’re intrigued to see what Washington has in store for esports.