Team Liquid on its Investments in Brazil
Team Liquid is making big inroads into the Brazilian market despite its lack of roots in the scene. Since its entrance in 2017, Team Liquid has been a very visible brand in the market thanks to its actions, rosters, and, of course, a welcoming fanbase. To understand the reasons behind this Dutch adventure in South America, The Esports Observer talked with Team Liquid’s COO Mike Milanov, who shared his insights.
“Brazil has one of the world’s largest esports audiences, and Team Liquid knows our passionate fanbase there is especially important to our success as an organization,” Milanov said. “It’s a massive new market to explore, with clear upsides to proactively establish our brand.”
One of the numbers that supports such optimism is the country’s vast audience, which today is the third-largest in the world. An estimated 7.6M Brazilians watch esports more than once a month. “Infrastructure development and increased connectivity in the region have supported growth and engagement around local campaigns – whether via comments, likes, retweets, or subscriptions,” he said. “Still, only 47% of the region’s online population is familiar with competitive gaming, which offers a fantastic growth opportunity.” Team Liquid’s numbers are supported by Newzoo and Esports Bar.
“Plus, Brazil is home to some amazing, world-class talent across multiple esports, placing the impetus on us to recruit, support, and connect them with our fans,” Milanov said. When asked if there were adaptation issues or resistance by the audience towards a foreign organization, the COO said it was almost nonexistent: “Our fantastic local staff and stakeholders have made the acclimatizing process relatively easy,” he said. “We’ve invested heavily in intellectual capital and on-the-ground management and operations. So, when you talk to the players and staff on our Brazilian teams, they make it pretty clear how amazing it is to have such great support. Our high level of involvement sends a message to the fans: Team Liquid and Brazil is a match made to last.”
Team Liquid’s numbers in the country support Milanov’s position. It holds the biggest audience in the region for Rainbow Six Siege, which has a roster entirely composed of Brazilian players. The top five most-watched matches in the last Rainbow Six Siege National League feature Team Liquid, with 30K average viewers, more than two times the second most popular team. Milanov also said that the “Free Fire team is growing fast, winning the first National League while averaging 300K viewers per day.”
The most recent move by Team Liquid in Brazil was the opening of its merchandising and souvenir store. Through a partnership with the payment company EBANX, Brazilian fans have access to Team Liquid’s products using national payment methods, and although the prices are still in USD, there are efforts being made to localize it.
EBANX, a company that specializes in introducing international companies to the Brazilian and Latin American markets, told TEO through its Sales Manager Daniel Chang that, although the feature was aired in July this year, the contact with Team Liquid started in April: “We reached them first, and from there we could build interest and saw the business potential of it.” Chang said that other esports brands are talking with EBANX to close new deals, but due to contractual terms, they cannot be revealed yet.
In its Brazilian operation, Team Liquid holds the same international sponsorship deals: Monster Energy Drink, Honda Motor Company, SAP Software Solutions, Alienware, Twitch, and gaming chairs manufacturer Secretlab. To enter the market, Milanov says the bureaucratic barriers were quickly overcome: “Brazil is very particular about the laws surrounding that issue, but we were able to navigate those waters without much trouble,” Milanov said.
When asked if Team Liquid will expand its operations in Brazil, Milanov said it is in progress right now. “When we were picking up our R6 roster in 2017, we had the team and a few support staff,” he said. “Since then, we’ve increased to 12 full-time staffers who support 14 athletes across multiple games. We also continue to grow our creative department, adding videographers and social media specialists, our partnership group, our sports psychology staff, and our analytics staff. Beyond e-commerce, we plan to introduce a lot more ways to interact with the brand. We want to improve the fan experience both physically and digitally, underscoring how committed Team Liquid is to make our mark in this fast-expanding region.”
Following Team Liquid, other international organizations seem to be looking at Brazil with attention. FaZe Clan and Ninjas in Pyjamas also play the local Rainbow Six Siege league, while Fnatic has been increasing its interactions with the Brazilian audience through social media and recently signed the local League of Legends streamer João Victor “Jovirone” Rodrigues, who already said he will turn pro in 2021.
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