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Sportfive to roll out esports operations globally with Gyllensvärd given key role

The Sportfive agency has established an international esports unit, naming Eike Gyllensvärd to the newly-created position of executive vice-president of global esports partnerships.

Having formed an esports operation at its German arm in 2016, Sportfive has upped its involvement in the sector since – most notably in the sponsorship sales space – and is now rolling out its activities globally.

Gyllensvärd, who has been with Sportfive for 18 years, will assume the lead on sponsorship sales with Moritz Altmann named as vice-president of global esports and handed a remit to develop the global business and manage relations with rights-holders.

Altmann has spent over a decade at Sportfive and was among a quartet that initially developed the agency’s esports concept four years ago in a process supported and promoted by Robert Müller von Vultejus, a member of the recently-formed Hamburg-based global executive committee at the rebranded agency.

Announcing its global plans this morning, Sportfive cited the “considerable market size” now commanded by esports that surpasses “many traditional sports in terms of both revenue and viewership”.

Sportfive noted: “In 2019 the industry globally hit $950m (€800m) in revenue and is expected to reach $1.1bn in 2020, while 58 per cent of the revenue is forecasted to come from sponsorships.

“The esports audience is projected to hit close to 500 million fans in 2020. These numbers combined reflect over 5-per-cent growth in revenue and over 10-per-cent growth in audience size year over year.”

On the new role for Gyllensvärd, Sportfive said that he has “played a significant role in the development of Sportfive’s sales capabilities in Germany as well as globally. In his previous roles, Gyllensvärd acted as the driving force to establish one of the best partnership sales units within the traditional sport business. He will now utilise his vast experience to develop the esports partnership sales business at Sportfive even further.”

Altmann will be supported by Thomas Ottl, previously Sportfive’s senior director, esports, who is to “work in a dual role responsible for the global operations on the rights-holder side as well as the collaboration with long standing rights-holder Riot Games, including for the LEC (League of Legends European Championship)”.

The LEC’s sponsorship rights are sold by Sportfive under a long-term deal announced in January 2019.

Along with the heightened global sales focus, Sportfive said that it now plans to extend its esports consulting and activation capabilities globally.

The agency added: “The agency’s latest success stories such as the advisory, sales and activation for KitKat and Warner in the LEC, the partnerships of esports team T1 with Nike and BMW as well as the collaboration of Joop! with SK Gaming and Levi’s with the Prime League underline the global scale of esports and the global capabilities of Sportfive.”

Sportfive (then Lagardère Sports) heralded its first foray into the esports sector at the start of 2017, choosing the Spobis conference in Düsseldorf to unveil a long-term exclusive marketing deal with the Unicorns of Love team. Speaking upon the announcement of that deal, Müller von Vultejus said the agency had taken its time entering the market and spent 12 months analysing esports “inside out”.

Commenting on the establishment of the global esports unit, Müller von Vultejus said today (Thursday): “I am excited to see that our decision to invest into esports in 2016 was the beginning of a capability and service offering of Sportfive that now reaches the next milestone. The appointment of Eike Gyllensvärd, who is one of our longstanding executives in sales and the driving force behind our strategic account management efforts in traditional sports, outlines our commitment and vision for the future of Sportfive.

“Being able to announce Eike as executive vice-president, global esports partnerships is one of the strongest statements we can show to the market. I am confident that with Eike Gyllensvärd and Moritz Altmann we appointed the perfect mix of extensive partnership sales experience and profound esports knowledge to spearhead our endeavours to further establish Sportfive as a leading agency in esports.”