Who were the main sponsors of CS:GO and Dota 2 esports tournaments in 2020? In the new Esports Charts article you’ll find out how Intel became the main global partner of competitions in both disciplines, how GG.BET outdid all other betting sponsors and what US Air Force is doing on the list.
The metric used
Our sample included all top CS:GO and Dota 2 competitions held in 2020. Namely, those with prize pools of $50,000 or more. There were also regional differences to partnerships, we chose to take into account only the main official English-language broadcasts of the events.
Due to the situation with the coronavirus, many events were held in different regions separately from each other (despite sharing the same name), which is why we considered them as separate championships. This is also related to the fact that the sponsors differed from region to region.
The main metrics to compare were the total hours watched for tournaments sponsored by the brands, as well as the numbers of these tournaments – the total number and the separate numbers for each discipline.
Overall partnership statistics — who can compete with Intel?
Intel has been a key esports partner of ESL for many years. Based on the overall statistics for CS:GO and Dota 2 from 2020, the American tech company became the absolute leader in terms of the hours watched for the tournaments it sponsored.
Championships sponsored by Intel gathered 135.4M hours watched across the year, which is more than 56% of total hours watched for both disciplines. It should be noted that Intel is the only partner to gain more than 50% (but overall it was still outdone by all the betting partners).
According to statistics, Intel is the only sponsor to have partnered with every third event in the sample. Additionally, Intel is the general partner of the IEM championship series, which traditionally generates huge interest among the Counter-Strike audience.
The sub-brand of Mountain Dew, Game Fuel, became the second most popular sponsor of 2020. The beverage manufacturer partnered with all of the most popular events of 2020, yet was behind Intel with 21 million fewer hours watched. It should be noted that Mountain Dew was behind Monster Energy in terms of the number of partnerships as well, however the latter cooperated with less popular events and therefore did not make it to the top 5 based on the total hours watched.
The third spot in the top of the most popular esports brands was taken by the betting company GG.BET, which was also the only representative of such companies in the hours watched-based top. During the year, GG.BET sponsored about every fifth top event in both disciplines, scoring a total of 98.1 million hours watched (40.9% of the whole number). It should be noted that the company also works with the Russian-language studios. European division of ESL Pro League Season 11 was the most successful tournament it sponsored in 2020, as it amounted to 19.7 million hours watched.
The CS.MONEY marketplace and DHL express delivery company (which works with ESL) also entered the top 5 esports sponsors. They were lagging quite far behind the top 3, amassing 62.3 million and 47.9 million hours watched (26% and 20%) respectively. The top 10 also included Betway, Monster Energy, MSI, Gaming Malta and Acer Predator.
Note that the overall ranking based on the number of sponsored tournaments is slightly different from the one based on the hours watched. According to this particular metric, Intel, Mountain Dew Game Fuel and GG.BET remained in the top 5 — holding the first, third and fourth spots, respectively. Meanwhile, the second spot was occupied by Monster Energy (which sponsored every fourth event), while the fifth spot was taken by Betway, which collaborated with 15% of all the tournaments in our sample. The latter is one of the general sponsors of the extremely popular BLAST Premier tournament series.
How did the US Air Force enter the top 10 partnerships in CS:GO?
In 2020, CS:GO left Dota 2 to bite the dust in terms of total hours watched of the tournaments, which is why the top sponsors in Valve’s shooter differs little from the overall top. But there are differences, nonetheless.
The presence of MSI electronics brand in the CS:GO ranking is the only difference from the overall top 5. The Taiwanese company has collaborated with every fourth Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament, all of which gathered a total of 41.6 million hours watched over the course of the year. At the same time, MSI was able to outmatch one of the main partners of ESL — the express delivery company DHL, which sponsors all the largest CS:GO championships of the tournament operator.
It is noteworthy that there is the US Air Force among the top 10 partners of CS:GO tournaments. The US military has been working to attract recruits through esports for several years now, and especially through CS:GO. Earlier they sponsored ELEAGUE Major 2018 and started working with Cloud9. In 2020, the presence of the US Air Force on the streams of Counter-Strike tournaments was rather frequent as well, with 29.5 million hours watched and the ninth spot taken in the discipline’s overall top.
Mercedes-Benz collects all the hype among the partners of Dota 2
The most popular Dota 2 sponsor of 2020 scored 4.6 times fewer hours watched than the one in CS:GO. Alas, this says a lot about the current state of the Dota esports scene. But first things first.
Mercedes-Benz became the top partner of Dota 2 tournaments. The German car manufacturer has been collaborating with the ESL One series championships for several years already and regularly gathers a lot of hype because it awards MVP of each tournament with a car. The voting itself takes place on social media, causing the company to receive thousands of mentions on Twitter alone.
Mercedes-Benz scored 24.9 million hours watched over the course of the year (31.9% of the total amount for the discipline). However, when it comes to the number of sponsored events, the company only shares the 5-7th spots with AMD and SAPPHIRE Technology, which corresponds to 15% of all events included in our sample.
Summing up general trends in sponsorship of esports tournaments (based on hours watched), it should be noted that tech companies (primarily because of Intel) prevail in the CS:GO and Dota 2 market. Over the past year, popularity of betting sponsors have also grown significantly, but their HW is still 1.7 times lower than the respective indicator of the tech companies. The third spot is taken by the food industry sponsors (which has two times less HW than the betting sponsors).
Valve's esports disciplines are of great interest to a wide variety of partners (from car manufacturers to public organizations) who do not fall into any of the three categories described above: all the other sponsors collectively gathered 1.5 times more HW than tech companies.
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