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GINX TV > Esports > Interview > Counter-Strike 2

GG.BET & Blast are building memorable fan experiences in esports arenas

Tournament organiser BLAST and their partner GG.BET reflects on how they've raised the bar for fan engagement at esports events across the country.
GG.BET & Blast are building memorable fan experiences in esports arenas
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I’m a full believer that esports is at its absolute best in front of a live audience, where dedicated fans come from miles around to share in something very unique. While competitive tournaments share similarities with traditional live sport (chants, team colours, an overpriced beer or two) the full fan experience for esports, regardless of game, is unmatched.

Tournament organisers and their partners are largely to thank for this. At the BLAST Premier Spring Final 2024, which took place at London’s Wembley Arena, Counter-Strike fans were treated to something special thanks to BLAST and the GG.BET betting brand.

“A positive fan experience is really important to BLAST so it was brilliant to see so many happy faces in the arena!" BLAST Premier Senior Partnerships Manager Nicole Johnson told GINX TV when reflecting on how fans engaged with the event. "It’s brilliant when our partners help improve and elevate the fan experience, that is exactly what GG.BET did in London during the Spring Final.”

If you didn't have one eye on the event, it was thanks to GG.BET specifically that fans were able to get up-close and personal with Team Vitality at a special signing held at GG.BET’s on-site booth. While fans could grab photos and get whatever they desired signed by the team, GG.BET also supplied every partaking fan with a free goodie bag, containing Vitality-themed flags, socks, stickers and more.

But perhaps what was most surprising, to me at least, was the extreme dedication from both GG.BET and Team Vitality to ensure every queuing fan was given the chance to experience the signing. It highlighted just how much more personal, and fan-first, esports events can be.

“Our focus during arena shows in particular is to reward our loyal fans," Johnson continued. "We can use our relationship with the teams as well as that of our partners to deliver once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and allowing fans the chance to meet their esports heroes is a great way to do that."

This same sentiment was also echoed by Sergii Mishchenko, CEO of GGBET UK, who told us just how special these meet and greets can be: “There’s no doubt every fan wants to see their hero with their own eyes. The GG.BET brand has successfully run these types of events with Team Vitality and NAVI many times already. Every time, we’re reminded that all the effort that goes into organising them is worth it because the fans really look forward to and value these initiatives. They really are an essential part of tournaments on this scale.

At OVO Arena Wembley, fans themselves came up and asked if there would be a chance to meet the teams this time around. On 14 June, during the signing session with Team Vitality, there was a queue of over 200 people wanting to get a player’s signature on their flags or jerseys, and no one was left disappointed. We are thankful to the team for their openness and willingness to interact with their audience.”

But it wasn’t just signings that fans could take part in. GG.BET supplied a lot of what we saw in the live audience cutaways and reaction cams, from branded thundersticks to hand-written posters to (my personal favourite) 3D neon ‘GG’ signs to hold up during the matches.

It’s these little interactables that keeps the energy flowing from match to match, exclusively for the benefit of fans and the broadcast. A selection of some of the best handmade posters has been lovingly collated by Esports News UK, though a special shoutout has to be given to this Swifty in the audience:

So what does this all mean for GG.BET, a brand primarily centred on betting? Where does the community experience fit into their craft? Well, aside from helping the brand reach millions of esports fans across the BLAST Premier Spring Final, and supporting sponsored teams and tournaments by giving their budgets a boost, it offers a way for GG.BET to give back to the communities they so dearly love.

“We don’t just see [Counter-Strike] as an opportunity to develop our business. We have a genuine interest, because we are esports fans,” Mishchenko told us. “Our team attends the major tournaments and we follow all the trends and news. So, as a brand focused on esports betting, we know what the fans want. When they come to a tournament, everyone wants to chill out and have fun, express themselves, soak up the excitement and make memories. So, we’re happy to deliver. Interacting with the players and influencers, photos, posters, flags, thundersticks — GG.BET arranges for all of it to make the community’s wishes a reality.

There’s no doubt that betting can make it more exciting to watch a game, so we gave our customers bonuses and offered the widest selection of markets for the Spring Final. But that’s only part of the fun. When fans are in the arena, we want to give them the best live experience.”

For BLAST, the benefits extend well past the day of an event: “Creating engaging and fan-first activations at esports events will only help attract fans to more events in the future, this is something GG.BET really leaned into at the BLAST Premier Spring Final,” said Johnson.

The more we can do to attract and excite new fans to the competitive gaming space, the more interest we will see in our industry. It’s important BLAST and other rights holders work closely together with brands to create compelling offerings for fans to enjoy whether at home or watching along in the arena. Both BLAST and our fans know the value these partners bring to BLAST Premier and facilitating that level of engagement is and will continue to be a priority for us.”

We’ve seen the impact firsthand of what this level of fan involvement can achieve. In this year alone, a staggering amount of tournaments have taken place (and are still to arrive) on UK soil, treating fans to some memorable experiences. BLAST even held the R6 Major in Manchester (a first for Rainbow Six Siege in the UK) where you couldn’t move without feeling the pure electricity in the arena from fans. With continued support from organisers like BLAST, and excellent partners like GG.BET, not only could the UK esports scene grow bigger and stronger than ever, but tournament experiences globally stand to benefit immensely. 

With the BLAST Premier Spring Final 2024 done and dusted, we’re looking ahead to the Fall Final 2024 coming this September and the BLAST Premier World Final sneaking ever closer. If the Spring Final was anything to go by, both events are set to be unmissable for Counter-Strike fans and we personally can’t wait to dive head-first into the action.

If you’d like to catch-up with everything that went down at the BLAST Premier Spring Final 2024, make sure to check out our very own vlog direct from all three days of the event.