Olivia R. August 9, 2019
Honda has ventured into esports once again, this time becoming the exclusive automobile partner for the League of Legends Championship Series.
Beginning with the Summer Split Playoffs, Honda will not only sponsor the LCS, but also the LCS Scouting Grounds as well as the League MVP award. According to an interview with The Esports Observer, Riot's head of esports partnerships Matthew Archambault was drawn to Honda because of their "commitment to the entire esports ecosystem."
"They are fully committing not only just at a professional level, but at the path-to-pro ecosystem, too," Archambault said. "Honda has a true cause toward driving the amateur system. We want to find partners that are actually looking to invest in the space."
The LCS partnership has made Honda the first automotive brand to sponsor both an esports league and one of its franchised teams in North America. This is thanks to Honda's partnership with Team Liquid, which was announced in January.
The partnership saw some sponsor-supported content as well as the Honda logo placed on team jerseys and merchandise. Team Liquid arrives at events in a Honda Oddyssey minivan that's personalized with the Team Liquid horsehead logo. They also own a fleet of similarly branded Honda Civics.
Team Liquid owner Steve Arhancet said the social media content is a major part of the partnership. Manager of media strategy at American Honda Phil Hruska told The Esports Observer that the response to their content on social media with Team Liquid has been largely positive.
"We were working on expanding our overall gaming strategy for the beginning of this year and that’s about when the TL deal came together,” Hruska said.
According to Hruska, the company was taking a "crawl-walk-run" approach to opportunities within the esports industry. He said the Riot sponsorship took a while to put together, but it was a "natural evolution" from their Team Liquid sponsorship.
“At the same time, we were taking this crawl-walk-run approach so we were looking for other opportunities concurrently. The Riot deal took longer to put together but it was a natural evolution of what we had built with TL," Hruska said.
On Twitch, YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Honda will be revealing 15-second videos that showcase Team Liquid's League of Legends players. Honda will be collaborating with Riot to create similar content for other teams on the LCS.
"Obvously, as a league operator, I love all my teams equally," Archambault said.
Honda was involved in esports even before the Team Liquid partnership. The car manufacturer had previously partnered with RedBull and Twitch in 2016, hosting a Harthstone tournament.