In May of 2021, the Cleveland Cavaliers announced a multi-year partnership with Esports Entertainment Group, Inc. to be the organization's official esports tournament platform provider. As part of the new multi-year agreement, EGL will operate three co-branded esports tournaments annually for the Cavaliers utilizing its platform.
"The growing popularity of esports provides a great opportunity for our team to create deeper connections and engagement with our fans," said Matt O'Brien, Cleveland Cavaliers vice president, global corporate partnerships in a press release. "We think these tournaments will be very popular with our fans and a fun way to compete in an entertaining and social environment with gamers from across the world."
"For us it's a huge thing, of course, being associated with a big sports brand like the Cleveland Cavaliers," said Magnus Leppäniemi. "They have a legacy in the NBA sports scene. They're closely related to a couple big people like LeBron James. So, for us it's a huge thing, of course, it's huge.
Leppäniemi shared with Right Down Euclid that the Cavaliers will be joining other professional American sports teams with NFL teams like the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Indianapolis Colts and NHL clubs such as the New York Rangers in an esports-centric partnership. But, in terms of partnerships in the NBA, this deal with the Cavaliers is the first of its kind for EGL.
"The thing my boss, Jonathan, always says is, 'If you're sitting courtside at a game now, you'll see 10 to 14-year-old kids sitting 20 feet from the best players on earth and they're on their phones,'" said Ari Brummer, Manager of Esports Business Operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers. "They're Snapchatting. They're on Instagram. They're doing TikToks. How do we get in front of that fan base was kind of the thing.
"So we could sit there and we could shake our fists and be like, 'Ah, why aren't they watching the game?' Or we can adapt and be like, 'How do we get in front of these fans and develop them and get involved in our community more through this'" So that's why partners like EGL are crucial to making that happen."
The first of three collaborations between the Cleveland Cavaliers organization and Esports Entertainment Group, Inc. happened this Sunday with the Cleveland Cavaliers Fortnite Kill Frenzy tournament.
The first collaboration between the Cavaliers and EGL was this Sunday when they hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers Fortnite Kill Frenzy tournament. This tournament is cross-platform meaning that PC, PS4, Xbox One & Nintendo Switch players are all permitted to compete. The higher seeded player will host a public squad game session. The hosting player will then invite their opponent to the game session and start matchmaking.
In the end, the player with the most kills at the end of the game session will be awarded the win. If there is a tie between competitors in terms of eliminations, the player that survived the longest wins the match. If both teams and all players survive to the end of the match, also known as a Victory Royale, the team who achieved the final kill shall win the round. One extra point is awarded to the team that won in the case of a draw after following the rules above as you can input a draw result when reporting the scores.
When the virtual dust settled, defyinguzumaki was declared the winner after several rounds of play and won what the Cavaliers are calling a "Cle-Cation" where the winner is flown to Cleveland, given two nights a partner hotel and then tickets to a future game in a luxury suite for two. After that, players won various cash prizes or autographed Cavaliers merchandise, which are all still pretty great prizes.
All in all, 37 players participated in the Cleveland Cavaliers Fortnite Kill Frenzy tournament. Although that in itself is impressive for the first of many collaborations between the Cavaliers organization and EGL, this is just the beginning. According to Brummer, the next step is to further connect with other gamers that heavily invested in other titles. Whether it's games like League of Legends, Call of Duty, Overwatch or even NBA 2K, if there is an avenue or vested interest, the Cavaliers organization wants to connect with them.
Founded in 2017, Cavs Legion Gaming Club is the official NBA 2K League team of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It also presents an opportunity to get fans of the Cavaliers basketball team that might be less hardcore than those invested in the esports scene interested as well. Team governor Dan Gilbert is already heavily invested in the esports scene – investing millions in the 100 Thieves gaming organization in 2017 as well as funding the founding of Cavs Legion Gaming Club, the team's official NBA 2K League team. Thanks to this partnership with EGL, the Cavaliers organization now has the ability to connect both their hardcore basketball fans as well as their hardcore gaming fans.
"It's going to be not just all about being competitive in tournaments, it's actually that you can compete with other fans also," said Leppäniemi. "This is a bigger experience than just an esports partnership. And that's why I think it can be huge because esports is maybe 10% of the gaming market where casual gaming is the other 90%. That's where there's a huge growth in this partnership with the Cavaliers."
In 2019, the Cavaliers opened the Cavs Legion Lair, a state-of-the-art esports center of Cavs Legion GC. Not only is it a facility for the team to practice, but, it's also available to the community for watch parties, tournaments, birthday parties, corporate rentals and so much more. Thanks to this partnership with EGL, Brummer sees this as an opportunity to utilize the facility to further grow their growing esports community as well as fans of the main club as well.
"We have some things in the works with them to build out communities within the game, said Brummer. "What that's going to mean is we're trying to utilize the platform that EGL provides us in a way to have fans connect with each other through that platform. So you play League of Legends, I play League of Legends, why don't we both play League of Legends? We both love Cavaliers basketball, we're both from Cleveland, all these different avenues that exist and these different disconnects that are there, and we're trying to work with EGL to find a way to really bring everybody together."
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