The eSports community always knew the day would come when the once commercial free tournament broadcasts would be laced with sponsored promotional material. For the most part, this move was understood and respected: as eSports continues to flourish, it is only natural that non-endemic sponsors will enter the space, bringing with them capital to keep the scene moving forwards. Commercials embedded within tournament streams was always going to be a pill eSports fans would one day have to swallow… but after witnessing the production quality of the advertising at IEM Katawice, the pill feels more like a suppository.
Within the League of Legends competitive calendar, the Intel Extreme Masters has always felt like an anomaly. Lacking the production quality of a Riot Games hosted event, ESL, the company behind IEM, have needed to rely on other sources of revenue to support the tournament. Lengthy pauses and commercial breaks have long since been a part of the viewers IEM stream experience, though with the introduction of multiple, heavyweight non-endemic sponsors throughout 2016, fans expected to witness some quality advertisements in the down-time between matches.
Male grooming brand Gillette proudly stepped forward to sponsor the League of Legends Intel Extreme Masters, taking the opportunity to showcase their latest line of razors using former Fnatic and Origen star Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez as their endorsed athlete. The brand ran a commercial during every available break in the tournament:
Gillette eSports: “Within Reach” Commercial
“As a former IEM Katowice MVP and current team owner, I understand the relentless pursuit of precision required to be the best player I can possibly be.
“Gillette obsesses over razor blades the same way I obsess over League of Legends strategy and it’s that common dedication that made me realize how much Gillette actually has in common with gamers,
“I’m happy and humbled to be their first global eSports ambassador and get the chance to show more of the world how much precision eSports requires.”
Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martínez
Though the Twitch chat watching the stream are quick to denounce xPeke as a “sellout” at every available opportunity, Gillette’s advert is perhaps the best of an otherwise cringeworthy batch…
Intel: “Be Core Strong” Commercial
This is one of those rare commercials where the audio is so heavily glazed with sugar, it might just give you diabetes. We get it, eSports players are athletes, but comparing a basketball player scoring a slam dunk to a eSports player darting his mouse across the pad is in no way the same thing. The reaction of the livestream audience to this advert is a potent combination of amusement and embarrassment.
G Fuel Commercial 1
Though Intel may have missed the target market with their attempt at creativity, they can certainly be commended for giving it a shot – that’s more than can be said for one of Gfuel’s two commercials repeated at IEM. It may be “Sugar free (seriously) (0 sugar)” but no drink that with such a luminous range of colours is going to be good for you.
G Fuel Commercial 2
Then there’s this drug-trip-mess of a commercial – what even is this? The individual within G Fuel’s marketing department that dreamt up this intriguing episode has clearly been smoking the same dank material as Phoenix1’s Adrian “Adrian” Ma and Counter Logic Gaming’s Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes…
ESL: “Play” Commercial
ESL’s self-produced, low budget advertisements are always a joy to behold. Given that ESL are hosting the broadcast, their commercials always feel somewhat unnecessary, or rather a means of filling out the gaps between games. For an advert produced by one man, a go-pro and a football, this commercial really isn’t too bad an effort. That being said, it certainly lowers the tone when it immediately follows Gillette’s high production-value piece.