Audi sponsors esports team Astralis

Astralis pose at the ELEAGUE Major photoshoot with team jerseys featuring their newest sponsor, Audi.
Image: astralis

Pro gaming fans, start your engines. Audi is getting into esports, and more big name brands could follow in 2017.

Professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team Astralis has landed a sponsorship with the German automaker, the team announced on their Twitter account this morning.

The deal comes just days before Astralis is set to play in one of the biggest tournaments of the year: the ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta, Georgia. The team unveiled their new team jerseys, freshly embroidered with Audis recognizable four-ring logo, at the events photoshoot just a few hours after the announcement.

The upcoming Major is the perfect place to start our partnership, said Jordi Roig, Chief Commercial Officer at RFRSH Entertainment, which brokered the deal on behalf of Astralis. We are proud to be working with an absolute top-class global mega-brand and we look forward to see what the future will bring.

Astralis gather for a team meeting at the ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta.

Image: ASTRAlis

Audi dabbled in gaming when it sponsored a 24 Hours of Le Forza live stream event in June. But this partnership marks the companys first big investment in esports, an industry that has seen a surge of mainstream attention in the last year.

It is a very interesting area with huge and strong demographics, said Christian Weiglin Thorn, Head of Marketing at Audi. Looking into the numbers, we saw that there actually is a substantial number of mature people within the esports audience.

This sponsorship is particularly significant, both for Astralis and for esports in general. Few non-endemic companies have embraced esports in their marketing budgets, and even fewer have directly sponsored teams or players. Most of the mainstream brands associated with gaming and esports stem from the computer, food and beverage and communications industries.

The entrance of a major automaker onto the scene could pave the way for other big name sponsors, which have traditionally been skittish about esports, despite growing engagement from a key demographic.

The increasing maturity of the industry, coupled with a rise in televised coverage, including Turners ELEAGUE, could result in more outside brands feeling comfortable enough to follow Audis lead.

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