eSports is rapidly becoming one of the most popular spectator sports in the world. The 2015 League of Legends Championship had more viewers than the Masters with an audience of 27 million. With a demographic that skews heavily towards millennials, brands are trying to find the best way to insert themselves into the conversation. Major gaming companies are already professionalizing this growing industry — Activision Blizzard recently bought Major League Gaming. The next step for gaming leagues is to work out which teams are the most marketable.

Zignal joined Major League Gaming (MLG) this past weekend for the Call of Duty World League Anaheim Open. For those unfamiliar with the gaming space, Call of Duty is a popular first person shooter game. Teams of four compete with one another in different settings, where the winning team has the most kills. MLG wanted to visualize the conversation around teams and players during the event as part of the fan experience, while teams and sponsor partners were very interested in how the data would be reflected in respect to marketability.

Where the Conversation Happens

MLG has a very loyal following on social media, with Twitter acting as the main forum for discussions around tournaments. The official MLG twitter account has over 2 million followers, while many of the teams have followers in the millions as well. The prominence of social media in the gaming world was reflected in the data — 98% of the media mentions for the event came from Twitter.

Top Teams and Players

Despite neither team reaching the final, OpTic Gaming and FaZe Clan were the two most mentioned teams over the weekend. OpTic Gaming reached Round 5 of the Losers bracket, yet more than 10,000 more mentions than the next team. Both teams have successfully leveraged their 2.5 million fans to create a side business selling team merchandise. The two also had team hashtags that were popular enough to make it onto the tournament hashtag cloud.

The distribution for the most mentioned players was a lot more even. Octane had the largest spike in mentions after his performance in the final for Luminosity. Over the course of the tournament, Formal and Crimsix were the two most popular players.

The Final

Luminosity edged Splyce in both the final and in share of voice (62% vs 38%). This is partly attributed to having more popular hashtags. The hashtag cloud for Luminosity has more prominent team specific messaging like #lgloyal and #lgcod, while the Hashtag cloud for Splyce is focused on more event specific hashtags. Even when looking at the entire tournament, Splyce’s Hashtag cloud is focused on messages from other teams.

The Luminosity players (Octane, Slacked, Saints and Classic) dominated the conversation in the final, with each of their players having more mentions than anyone on the Splyce team (Bance, Zer0, Madcat and Jurd).

The eSports market hold tremendous business potential. As such, teams are learning how to best leverage their legions of followers, while brands are trying to understand how to best insert themselves into a conversation that is controlled by their target demographic — millennials. Through understanding what the conversation of social media consists of, both parties can begin to reap the full benefits of this burgeoning industry.

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