Brands like Browns, New Balance turning to Rival


As soccer star Lionel Messi ponders his life after retirement, he made a strategic move earlier this year by purchasing a stake in Inter Miami as part of his transfer to the MLS. Additionally, Messi has become a co-owner of Argentina-based KRÜ Esports, where former teammate Sergio Agüero also holds a stake. KRÜ Esports has teams for games such as Valorant and Rocket League. With Messi’s involvement in the organization, it’s anticipated that the team’s global reach will significantly increase. This appears to be another step in Messi’s predicted career trajectory, which bears similarities to David Beckham’s entrance into gaming with UK-based Guild Esports.

In another sports update, the high school volleyball team I coach, the Mayfair Monsoons, made it to the CIF state playoffs quarterfinals for the first time ever! — Kevin Hitt

Rival, a gaming platform, is poised to create fan engagement opportunities for some of the top professional teams. The company has entered agreements with several NFL teams, including the Bills, Brown, and Cowboys, as well as the NHL’s Devils and Serie A’s Bologna FC. New Balance is one of many brands that have partnered with Rival to foster an authentic gaming community, thereby increasing business prospects.

The aim of Rival is to build a space where gamers do more than just supporting their favourite teams. Rival presents its partners with chances to encourage merchandise sales along with digital content, and to customize in-game advertisements based on the user’s specific interests. Plus, it helps teams gather fan data from a new source.

“Our journey is centered around creating an adequately significant point of activation for stakeholders,” stated Matt Virtue, CEO of Rival. “We aim to deepen business-to-business relations by incorporating existing and potential new customers into the experience.”

The CMO of New Balance, Chris Davis, informed SBJ that the brand has seen “a significant increase in participation across different gaming executions” since teaming up with Rival this year. “Rival’s platform abilities, together with their collaborative approach, have exposed New Balance to new audiences, experiences, and methods to engage with customers on a more personal level, emphasizing engagement quality over interaction quantity — providing highly sought-after engagement duration with consumers,” he added.

Rival’s distinct strategy does not solely revolve around winning or spending money, which is crucial for capturing a younger demographic.

Racing Prodigy aspires to make motorsports more accessible by eliminating the high cost barrier. The Atlanta-based company plans to do this by selecting 12 individuals from nine countries — all of whom have experience playing racing games — and placing them behind the wheels of actual race cars.

“Auto racing is costly for most people. Although you can watch racing or buy a ticket, you can’t actually participate in a race. We aim to change this longstanding issue,” remarked David Cook, CEO of Racing Prodigy. “Our mission is to find prodigies and make motorsports accessible to everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic status. We’re not here to sponsor a single driver, but to invest in the transformation of a sport. This is crucial for motorsports, and all drivers worldwide are deserving of it.”

The company’s goal is to secure paid contracts for drivers to compete in the first Prodigy Racing League series in the U.S., set to start in 2024.

Racing Prodigy’s initiative to place video game players in actual cars on race tracks was initially met with skepticism. However, Prodigy Week, held at the end of October, offered gamers a chance to become drivers. Roughly 60,000 competitors from 100 countries participated in games like iRacing, Street Kart Racing, RaceRoom, and rFactor 2 from June to September — with 12 finally advancing to Atlanta.

Subsequently, a group of racing and esports notable individuals, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte, experienced driver Max Papis, IndyCar’s Linus Lundqvist, and content creators Cameron Das, Random Callsign, and Aarav Amin, picked the finalists.

The finalists underwent evaluation, training, and coaching not only for racing, but they also received guidance for fitness, interviews, and data performance. The program ended with the drivers completing over 850 laps (more than 1,700 miles) in entry-level Radical SR1 race cars on the main track at Atlanta Motorsports Park. Racing Prodigy compared this achievement to the typically recorded log by professional drivers.

  • An article in Digiday, titled “Here’s what ultimately led to the fall of FaZe Clan,” highlights that the sale of the company to GameSquare following its public listing in July 2022 wasn’t the root cause. As stated by eight former FaZe Clan employees, serious business issues had begun to emerge well before then.
  • Esports Insider reports that the Overwatch League by Activision Blizzard is “officially ending approximately five years after its inception,” as a majority of team franchises voted to bring the league to a close.
  • Richard Lewis comments that it’s “unclear” whether Evil Geniuses intends to “fully liquidate the organization and then sell the brand to interested parties or considerably reduce operations.” But given the “ongoing efforts” to sell its League of Legends North America (LCS) slot and its Valorant players, the former possibility “appears increasingly likely.” If certain conditions and agreements are met under the supervision of Riot Games, the likeliest buyer would be Enthusiast Gaming, the parent company of the esports brand, Luminosity Gaming.
  • According to my colleague Adam Stern, Phoenix Raceway hosted a Rocket League esports tournament in one of its garages during NASCAR’s championship events last weekend. Check his tweet for more information.
  • After losing the opportunity to host the Esports World Championships to rival platform MyWhoosh, Cycling Weekly reports that virtual racing platform Zwift is back in action with a new event – the Zwift Games. The goal is to host the ‘biggest cycling esports event ever organized.'”

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