As more money and attention comes to esports, so too do major companies from outside of the gaming industry who are looking to capitalize. The automotive industry is one of the sectors who have proven to want to tap into the vast audiences of esports.
As more and more eyeballs flock to esports among its emergence as a major sport in its own right, companies outside of gaming want to get involved as a means of staying relevant to young, engaged audiences.
The automotive industry, for some reason, is one of the major players in the wave of high-profile, big-money deals coming the way of esports organizations and tournament organizers.
While sponsorships and partnerships are still flooding in, you’d be hard-pressed to find a major car brand that’s not already involved in competitive gaming in some form. Following Tribe and Ford’s new alliance, we’ve compiled a list of all the car manufacturers that are involved in esports.
Car companies in esports
As you may expect, Alfa Romeo’s main effort in esports is taking part in the Formula 1 Esports Series alongside their fellow F1 competitors. They’ve been in the series since 2018.
Alpine are slowly but surely increasing their involvement in esports after competing in the F1 Esports Series. Earlier in 2021 they launched their own competitive gaming event, the Alpine Esports Series.
Aston Martin are part of the official esports series hosted by Formula 1, which instantly makes them a top name in the world of sim racing. They’ve also competed in The Race All-Star Series, another tournament for simulated racing.
Audi primarily made a name for themselves by getting involved with Astralis Group, sponsoring their teams in major esports titles Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends. They’ve also sponsored FOKUS CLAN, TOP Esports, and national LoL competition Belgian League.
BMW entered esports in late 2017 by getting involved with European League of Legends, and they later expanded their presence in the industry by launching United in Rivalry with five major orgs. Most recently, they added two-time The International victors OG Esports to the campaign.
Owned by General Motors, Cadillac made their mark in esports in January 2021 through a partnership with TSM. The deal made them the exclusive automotive partner of the North American organization.
Chevrolet aren’t as involved in esports as many of their competitors, with their main contribution coming in the form of sponsoring Chinese organization Invictus Gaming.
Ford cemented their commitment to esports by launching Fordzilla, their very own competitive team, in 2019. More recently, they became a presenting sponsor of the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) and sponsored Tribe Gaming.
Perhaps less known on an international basis, Haval targeted CIS esports fans in 2020 by forging deals with organization Virtus.pro and tournament organizer EPIC League. Both companies are owned by ESforce and now count the automotive brand as their exclusive partner in this particular category.
Honda were named the official automotive partner of the North America LCS in 2019 and, not too long after, reinforced their commitment to League of Legends by becoming the naming sponsor of the LCS Scouting Grounds. They’ve also had involvement with one of the most known orgs in the industry, Team Liquid.
Hyundai’s esports activities include sponsoring events such as the eSports WRC (in which they had a naming entitlement) and the Red Bull Conquest Finals, where they served as the official automotive partner.
KIA have naturally flocked to Rocket League, a game involving cars, as part of their esports strategy. This began by them sponsoring CLG’s team in the game back in 2018. They expanded their reach in 2019 and beyond however, sponsoring Riot Games’ LEC, South American org Thunder Predator, French org Team Vitality, NA-based org Rogue, and former LoL world champions DAMWON Gaming (now known as DWG KIA).
As well as sponsoring an event in the Rocket League Championship Series, Lamborghini created their own esports competition: The Real Race.
Lexus have had limited presence in esports thus far, with their first move in the space including sponsoring the Esports Awards. They really boosted their impact in the industry through a deal with 100 Thieves in July 2021, however.
HellRaisers announced a partnership with Auto International, the official distributor and brand importer of Mazda in Ukraine, back in October 2020. The deal included branding being featured across the Ukrainian org’s content.
McLaren have gone beyond simply slapping their logo on an esports team’s jersey and social media. McLaren Shadow is their own esports team, fielding competitors in sim racing, hosting their own events, integrating them into their Formula 1 activities, and (of course) taking part in the F1 Esports Series.
Mercedes-Benz have the most skin in the game of any major car brand, owning a significant portion of one of the industry’s most recognizable and longstanding organizations: SK Gaming. They also have presence at many of the world’s biggest esports events, including the League of Legends World Championship and several ESL competitions. They’ve also sponsored organizations like Royal Never Give Up (RNG) and Illuminar Gaming, and compete in the F1 Esports Series.
Mitsubishi served as a sponsor of Blizzard’s esports events but withdrew their commitment in 2019 following controversy involving Hearthstone professional Ng ‘blitzchung’ Wai Chung.
Besides a one-off video campaign with Team Curse, who later become Team Liquid, Nissan’s claim to fame in esports is a dual sponsorship of two of the industry’s biggest brands: FaZe Clan and OpTic Gaming.
Porsche’s esports activities include hosting the Porsche iRacing World Championship Series alongside sim racing platform iRacing and sponsoring the esports division of German football club Hamburger SV.
Renault have been somewhat reserved in esports, occasionally making moves that they feel makes the most sense considering the industry they’re in. Their main activation has been a naming sponsorship with Team Vitality that specifically focused on Rocket League.
SEAT are known for their partnership with Spanish team brand MAD Lions, serving as the automotive partner of their teams in League of Legends.
Subaru of America partnered with esports agency Damage to create its own $20,000 Subaru Invitational in CS:GO complete with a dedicated Twitch channel. In 2020, Subaru of America became the entitlement sponsor of the Subaru iRX All-Star Invitational in partnership with iRacing.
Toyota have a varied breadth of activities in esports. As well as sponsoring prominent organizations like Immortals, it’s worked with tournaments like BLAST and Overwatch League — even hosting its own event, the Toyota Masters CS:GO Bangkok.
The Volkswagen Esports Series is a Brazilian competitive gaming event that focuses on sim racing. They’ve also held a league for Indian competitors, namely the Volkswagen Motorsport IR eSports Racing League.
Volvo have limited experience in the esports industry, having sponsored a minor Dota 2 tournament known as the Legion Ukrainian Championship 2021, which was ran by the Ukrainian Professional Esports Association.
Car manufactures are specially suited to esports, given the target demographic of both industries — so we expect more still to get involved.