As of January 4, BLAST, a Danish esports firm, has collaborated with Epic Games to become the official operator of “Rocket League” esports. Epic’s decision to collaborate with BLAST over the Saudi-Arabian-owned league operator ESL/FACEIT Group surprised many in the competitive gaming business, implying that Saudi Arabia’s $38 billion investment in esports may not result in a complete takeover of the sector, as many previously anticipated.
BLAST originated as a “Counter-Strike” tournament operator, but it has been producing “Fortnite” events for Epic since 2021, organizing the entirety of Epic’s Fortnite Champion Series (FNCS) in 2022-2023. As part of this month’s “Rocket League” agreement, the business will handle all event production, sales, operations, and marketing for the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS), as well as manage the game’s commercial rights and esports events.
“We work in a lot of traditionally non-brand-friendly games, and we’ve managed to develop great commercial partnerships and programs,” said Leo Matlock, chief business officer of BLAST. “So to have one where perhaps some of those barriers aren’t there is great.”
Both BLAST and Epic Games spokespeople declined to comment on the partnership’s particular duration or financial details, although they did clarify that it was a multi-year agreement.
“For RLCS, we’re absolutely focused on looking at the inventory they had and maximizing it — but we don’t want to stagnate,” added Matlock, who told Digiday that BLAST will gain access to both in-game goods like banners and flags and out-of-game property like event naming rights. “The benefit of this being multi-year is that we can experiment, listen, learn, adapt, and improve. We will absolutely try to recreate the things that people have seen before. But we’re also here to examine how we can make that proposition more appealing to brands.
A shift in strategy
BLAST signed the “Rocket League” deal shortly before the start of the 2023 vacations. This decision was something of a turning point for Epic Games. The publisher has previously collaborated with the Germany-based ESL/FACEIT Group, another esports firm, to oversee “Rocket League” events, and the two companies had been in talks for months about their partnership in 2024. Those participating in the EFG negotiations informed Digiday that they were confident in their bid.
“We have really enjoyed working with the ‘Rocket League’ community; I think we’ve done incredible work across the RLCS this year,” stated Craig Levine, co-chief executive officer of EFG. “We’re pleased of what we’ve accomplished and disappointed not to be able to build on it in the future. Obviously, Epic’s decision is the reason they picked it.”