Leading CEE banking group now an official Finals Main Partner for the League of Legends European Championship Playoffs.

Erste Group Bank AG (“Erste Group”) is working together with the game developer and esports tournament organizer Riot Games to support the growth of esports in the banking group’s core markets in Central and Eastern Europe. Erste Group is taking an official Finals Main Partner role for the LEC Playoffs, the top European league play for Riot Games’ first title League of Legends. Erste Group will accompany the start of their sponsorship with a visually stunning image film showing how a young gamer overcomes initial doubts to succeed in esports.

The Summer Split of the LEC Playoffs will be held at the end of August. These playoffs also serve as a stepping stone for the participating teams to advance to "Worlds", the world championship for League of Legends. The title stands at the very pinnacle of the esports sector, with over 100 million players each month.

Encouraging esports players and fans to believe in themselves

Erste Group is one of the first major brands focused on Central and Eastern Europe to recognize the growing popularity of esports. With its commitment to more strongly establishing esports in CEE via its role as a main partner of the LEC Playoffs, the banking group wants to help make the potential of this new sport more accessible to people throughout the region.

“We see esports as an ecosystem of a new generation and want to sustainably support its growth. Erste wants to encourage this young and growing community to believe in itself – and we want to do our part to help that community share its convictions and self-confidence with a broader public. In doing so, we want to leverage esports’ supra-regional potential, assist its communities in networking even more closely across national borders especially in such challenging times, and help strengthen the framework in which this new movement can continue to grow,” explains Peter Bosek, Chief Retail Officer of Erste Group.

The Vienna-headquartered banking group, which is present in seven markets across the CEE region, seeks to generate a large number of activations across all channels through its role as a sponsor of the LEC Playoffs. The starting point is an emotional image film that translates the Erste’s #believeinyourself claim into the esports sphere in a brand-appropriate way. The video introduces viewers to the doubters and critics that esports faces as a young sport and illustrates the emotional hurdles that confront young esports professionals. At the same time, the film underlines Erste Group's belief in esports and encourages the rising generation of gamers to believe in themselves.

Erste Group will also provide an additional edutainment offering whose social media-based content is geared primarily to esports fans, but also seeks to bring the broader public into contact with esports by providing background information. The sports marketing agency Jung von Matt/SPORTS is providing Erste Group with strategic consulting on its esports commitment and is responsible for conceiving and implementing all activations related to the banking group’s Finals Main Partner role for the LEC Playoffs.

The partnership between Erste Group and Riot Games was actually already launched with the Spring Split of the LEC Playoffs, but the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic led to a shift in sponsorship communications and activities to the upcoming playoffs. “Of course, we had initially imagined a very different start for our sponsorship. Esports is not just some additional advertising space for us, but rather a platform for real partnerships. That’s why it was clear to us that we’d stick to the sponsorship with the LEC Playoffs – and why we’re all the more pleased that we can now move from a soft to a really big launch,” points out Martin Radjaby-Rasset, Head of Brand Strategy and Communications at Erste Group.

“With Erste Group as the most innovative banking group in Austria and the CEE region, we have brought a great partner on board who wants to strengthen and anchor esports in the region together with us - not only through advertising, but also as a strong infrastructure partner,” says Alban Dechelotte, Head of Partnerships and Business Development EMEA at Riot Games.

Erste Group joins leading global brands in esports

The popularity of esports has increased massively in recent years. Professional teams, leagues, structures, media, and completely new economic sectors have developed around esports. The total audience for esports now encompasses over 490 million fans worldwide (with a growth rate of 11.7% YoY in 2020), with over 50 million in Europe alone. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the largest single age group among esports fans are people between 21 and 35, who account for 38% of esports’ overall audience. In addition, nearly 40% of the esports audience are women. The diverse and attractive demographics of the millions of fans following esports in live streams and stadiums has also led to growing sponsorship interest on the part of international brands like McDonald’s, BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Louis Vuitton.