NRG Esports Shops Naming Rights to Rocket League Team

NRG Esports has entered the market to sell a naming rights position for its Rocket League team, organization president Brett Lautenbach revealed to SBJ Esports’ Adam Stern, a rarity in the competitive gaming world.

NRG is seeking a multiyear deal with the asking price in the six figures annually. The organization is open to working with a brand from a broad array of categories, but Lautenbach noted that the automotive sector seems to be a natural one here given that Rocket League is based around cars playing soccer.

NRG is one of the top teams in the Rocket League Championship Series, having won the Season 8 championship in 2019, and it started thinking about doing a title sponsorship deal for that team because it sees great potential in the game. NRG has heard from companies that it’s a brand-safe, easy-to-digest esport compared to many of the popular shooter games, and the organization is seeing the sort of impressive viewership and subscribership numbers on its Rocket League-focused digital content that it feels would be attractive to a sponsor and monetizable for itself.

On top of the name of the brand being woven into the team name itself, the title partner will get significant on-jersey branding and be woven into the team’s digital content offerings and live events.

Rocket League’s publisher is Psyonix Studios, which is now owned by Fortnite developer Epic Games. Epic and its executive Nate Nanzer have been spending an increasing amount of time with Pysonix ramping up the game’s product and esports efforts. Psyonix just announced yesterday that Rocket League will now become a free-to-play video game, meaning it will no longer sell the game itself but rather monetize it with things like in-game item purchases.

“We just started getting out in the market very recently; it took a while to figure out how these pieces fit together, how to create a compelling package, and we are starting to hear back from enough brands (where it’s like), ‘OK, we’re onto something here,’” Lautenbach said.

The organization is hoping to have a deal done by the end of 2020 and ideally even sooner so it can start letting the brand get assets in the back half of the year immediately before building up a more comprehensive activation plan for 2021.

 “I can go to any CMO in the country and show them a five-minute match, and by the second minute, they understand it and can enjoy it,” Lautenbach said of the differentiator for Rocket League from other esports. “This is the perfect product to start going out and looking for an entitlement partner.”

 Meanwhile, NRG also recently signed and quietly revealed a deal with T-Mobile for its Overwatch League and Call of Duty League teams. There was no formal announcement, but T-Mobile has started sponsoring the San Francisco Shock in OWL, while its value brand, Metro by T-Mobile, is sponsoring the Chicago Huntsmen of CDL, and those teams have started integrating the brands into its social and digital media posts and platforms. This is on top of its recent deal with Popeye’s.

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