Astralis signs two-year partnership deal with Unibet
The Danish esports team, Astralis, has recently signed a two-year partnership deal with the online betting company, Unibet. The global partnership deal will see Unibet becoming Astralis’ official betting parter, and it’s hoped that this relationship will provide Astralis will further funds and stability in their quest to become the best CSGO team in the world.
Unibet’s parent company, Kindred Group, signed the agreement which will grant the online betting brand exclusive rights to using Astralis’ image and strengthen Unibet’s foothold in the increasingly lucrative esports betting market.
The move is just another in a series of efforts made by traditional sports betting brands to sponsor esports teams and tournaments. Similarly, there have been plenty of esports organisations who have made no attempt to hide their increasingly close relationships with big money companies. All of which points to an increasing level of professionalism in the competitive gaming realm and signals the fact that esports is close to becoming perceived as a regular sporting activity.
Why have Unibet teamed up with Astralis?
As esports has grown to become a hugely popular global activity that has many millions of active participants and spectators, it’s little surprise to find that traditional sports betting sites would want to get involved. Many online bookmakers like Unibet now allow customers to bet on a wide variety of esports tournaments, and by tying their brand to one of the most successful esports teams, it’s hoped that Unibet will gain an extra level of brand recognition in this relatively new market.
Unibet aren’t the first traditional sports betting brand to have formed a partnership deal with an esports team. In the past few years, we have seen the popular online bookmaker, Betway, launch a successful partnership with both the Ninjas in Pyjamas and MIBR esports teams. Similarly, the dedicated esports betting site, GG.Bet, will have received plenty of exposure when their sponsored team, Natus Vincere, wore shirts with the brand name whilst winning the ESL One Cologne 2018 tournament.
Some online betting sites have even gone one step further as was seen when the Rivalry CIS Invitational tournament took place in June earlier this year. Whilst there is some concern about how close online gambling sites should get to competitive gaming, it’s clear that this relationship is only going to get further intertwined. After all, a large number of football teams in top European leagues have signed lucrative deals with betting brands, and it could be just a matter of time before the same thing happens to esports.
High expectations for the Astralis esports team
By sponsoring Astralis, Unibet will be hoping that the esports team continue their remarkable winning record within the competitive gaming realm. Whilst the Danish esports organisation have only been around since 2016, they have made a big impression in the gaming world, and were recently nominated as being the esports team of the year in the Game Awards 2018.
Unlike many other esports organisations, Astralis just focus their attention on one game – Counter Strike Global Offensive. The team have already won an impressive amount of CSGO tournaments, including the FACEIT Major in London 2018, the ELEAGUE Major 2017 and the DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018.
The team was formed by a group of gamers who left Team SoloMid, and used investment of Sunstone Capital and various Danish entrepreneurs to set up their own organisation. These funds also helped Astralis make some high profile signings such as Lukas ‘gla1ve’ Rossander in October 2018.
As a result, Astralis are easily one of the most feared CSGO teams around. And with a roster packed with talented gamers like dev1ce, depreeh, Xyp9x, Magisk and zonic, it’s easy to see why Unibet would be so keen to get involved with a team so full of star players.
The growing professionalism of esports
It’s remarkable to think just how far esports has come in the past decade. From being a niche activity in South Korea at the turn of the century, esports has become a world beater and looks to hit revenues of $1.65 billion by 2021. As a result, we have seen many large businesses seeking to use esports to target a younger demographic that tend to stray away from traditional media.
From car brands like Hyundai and Audi sponsoring esports teams and tournaments, to fast food giants such as McDonald’s creating special gamer-friendly menus, it’s clear that even the most unlikely of firms are starting to get serious about esports.
This has the power to help esports gain a further level of legitimacy. Whilst many traditional sports fans have been sceptical of the esports phenomenon, with online bookmakers like Unibet and Betway investing large amounts of money into sponsoring esports team, it seems that competitive gaming will start to be treated more and more like a traditional sport.