In brief

  • Coinbase has sponsored the BLAST Premier competition for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
  • Esports team Evil Geniuses also teased a Coinbase sponsorship earlier this week.

Ahead of an expected public listing in the coming weeks, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has entered the world of esports with a pair of sponsorship deals: a newly-announced partnership with tournament organizer BLAST and a teased alliance with team Evil Geniuses.

The deals represent Coinbase’s first steps into the surging world of competitive gaming, which has grown and professionalized in recent years.

The BLAST deal was revealed today, as Coinbase will sponsor the European organizer’s upcoming BLAST Premier spring season based around the PC shooter game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). Coinbase will sponsor the Spring Showdown event from April 13-18 and the Final from June 15-20. The entire 2021 BLAST Premier season spans seven events with a total prize pool of $2.475 million.

Additionally, Coinbase branding will be used for “The Economy Play” broadcast segments during events, in which commentators discuss the teams’ use of in-game funds for buying weapons. This type of segment is often sponsored by betting platforms, but a crypto exchange likewise fits the bill. Coinbase branding will also be used for digital activations and content around the competitions.

Meanwhile, the partnership with Evil Geniuses has not yet been officially announced, but the team tweeted out an image of a player jersey featuring the logo this week, and tagged Coinbase in the tweet. Decrypt has reached out to a team representative for further information about the teased sponsorship deal, and will update this article if we hear back.

Evil Geniuses, founded in 1999, is one of the longest-running and most popular American esports teams, and currently fields a team in the prominent League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), as well as games such as CS:GO and Dota 2. The team’s other sponsors include Bud Light, Razer, Absolut, LG UltraGear, and streaming platform Twitch.

The esports industry has seen significant growth within the last year. It thrived via online competition amidst the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when traditional sports leagues were forced to shut down. The esports market is estimated to see total revenue of $1.08 billion in 2021, according to video game market research firm Newzoo. Nearly 60% of that sum is anticipated to come from sponsorship deals.

Professional esports teams and leagues have signed blockchain industry sponsors in the past, such as Hdac Technology, which sponsored both BLAST and team G2 Esports, as well as OG Esports team sponsor DMScript. Additionally, multiple esports teams have offered cryptocurrency fan tokens, such as OG, Team Heretics, and Natus Vincere via Chiliz’s fan token platform Socios. Japanese financial firm SBI Holdings even pays its esports players in XRP.

Furthermore, there are numerous efforts within the blockchain and crypto industry to develop esports initiatives that pay users in cryptocurrency. For example, Bitcoin startup ZEBEDEE has rolled out CS:GO servers that use the Lightning Network to pay players BTC as they compete, while Polyient Gaming and Community Gaming recently announced a $100,000 tournament series around games such as popular shooter Valorant and Ethereum-based monster-battler Axie Infinity.