Buffalo Wild Wings has stepped up its engagement with esports this week, becoming the official sports bar of the League of Legends Championship Series. Rather than focusing exclusively on broadcast integration or social media promotion, the restaurant chain’s aim with this new partnership is to become a home for esports fans.
“We took a step back and looked at the space and really thought about how there’s all these sports fans that are watching traditionally at home and didn’t have a place to gather,” Buffalo Wild Wings Director, Experience & Gaming Brandon Gill told The Esports Observer. “We felt like, beyond just being a sponsor, we could really be that place to create that ritual for fans of the LCS to come in and gather.”
Earlier this year, Buffalo Wild Wings filed a trademark to become “The Official Bar of Esports.” Gill explained that the popularity of the LCS among a highly-prized demographic made it a natural starting point. “It kind of goes without saying what a massive sport it is – the third-largest sport for males 18-34 – and so it’s a bit of a no-brainer for us to lean in with the LCS immediately and create that space for those fans to gather and watch. And that’s our first way in as a sports bar.”
Gill also noted that in Buffalo Wild Wings’ experience working within esports, the company sees no substantial difference between traditional sports fans and esports fans. He said that esports fans want to engage with one another to celebrate wins and experience losses. “We’re a great place for sports fans to gather and this is another great sport to add to our repertoire.”
Looking forward, Gill noted that the company is exploring other esports to add to that repertoire, but did not share specific games it is eyeing. “As far as where we’ll go with esports, I think it will be a similar approach [to the LCS]. I think we’ll find big events, we’ll find partners to augment this LCS partnership that we’re so excited about. And we’ll make sure that fans of the LCS and other esports, and fans of other esports, in general, will have a place to gather.”
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