HARMAN Delivers Immersive Esports Experiences with the JBL Quantum Cup
Whether you’re a fan or a player, sports bring out passion and dedication. Esports, in particular, has been experiencing rapid growth in recent years. By design, the online model of esports allows fans and athletes to interact with the game in an unprecedented way, as livestreaming platforms like Twitch create direct athlete-fan communication. And as fans and gamers flock to the esports industry, its popularity is only projected to grow in the coming years. Total esports viewership is expected to grow at a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2019 and 2023, up from 454 million in 2019 to 646 million in 2023, according to Business Insider.
With the meteoric rise of the gaming industry, our teams at JBL saw an opportunity to bring their industry-leading audio presence into the world of esports. “We as a brand that has a pretty strong foothold in the sports space, we knew that we were going to figure out the right way to enter into the esports arena, pardon the pun,” according to Chris Epple, HARMAN’s Vice President of Consumer Marketing – Americas, Lifestyle Audio.
This vision culminated in the launch of our innovative, stunning JBL Quantum Range gaming headphones early in 2020, bringing gaming audio solutions to a highly promising market. That was just the beginning, as we soon announced global gaming partnerships with leading lifestyle power brand and esports organization 100 Thieves and Pro Twitch streamers like TeePee, SypherPK and Sinatraa. In November 2020, we kicked off the JBL Quantum Cup, a first-of-its-kind gaming tournament that pitted fans against their favorite esports teams. Putting consumers at the center of the action, the JBL Quantum Cup invited fans to watch, play and win prizes during the three-day tournament.
Fans watched the top names in esports face off in three of the hottest battle royale and shooter games: Fortnite, Valorant and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). Unique in its design to help fans participate in the tournament, audiences also got the opportunity to compete during the qualifying rounds of the global Fortnite challenge for a chance to advance to the finals of the JBL Quantum Cup, which put them up against the pros! The biggest names in esports participated, including 100 Thieves, FaZe Clan, Envy, Time In, Clouds, Sentinels, Gen.G and TSM. In an epic Valorant North America Grand Finale showdown between Faze Clan and Sentinels, the Sentinels walked away victorious. They swept the best-of-three final with two stellar wins.
Interestingly, the JBL Quantum Cup wasn’t always in our JBL team’s plans for 2020. Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, JBL had planned to debut the headphones with a series of major “cultural moments” such as the renowned South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. But, when social distancing became the norm, JBL had to get creative to produce an equally engaging way to get the revolutionary Quantum Range off the ground while maintaining its spot the intersection of gaming and lifestyle.
One of JBL’s first major moves forward into the gaming space was partnering with 100 Thieves. The popular esports team boasts over 800,000 Twitter followers, over 1 million subscribers on Twitch and a deeply passionate fan base. In the gaming world, 100 Thieves is known for their mastery of the popular game Valorant. They’re considered the best Valorant team in esports. As part of the newfound partnership, JBL ran a $10,000 headphones giveaway for 100 Thieves’ fans.
Then came the JBL Quantum Cup.
“The creation of the JBL Quantum Cup came as a result of looking at the fact that so much of the landscape as we knew it had just eroded,” Epple said. “And so we began building our own proprietary gaming event, which hopefully will have legs beyond this even.” The tournament crossed continents, with fans and gamers alike tuning in from Asia, Europe and North America. Teams at JBL worked tirelessly to ensure the smooth operations of what essentially turned into three separate sets of events to accommodate various time zones. It also required intense market research. To ensure success, JBL worked hard to incorporate notable guests and partnerships for each region into the tournament.
As esports grows, JBL believes it has positioned itself well to grow with it. By finding the intersection of gaming and lifestyle, as JBL does so well, it’s established itself in the saturated world of esports solutions. HARMAN knows what sets it apart from other brands in the gaming space: 75 unmatched years of superior audio experiences. “What we're trying to do is take that same caliber of sound to enthusiasts at every level from casual to professional across gaming, and take advantage fully of the exponential growth in the sector,” Epple said.
Cultivating a creative market-shaping strategy, powered by our audio technology expertise, allowed HARMAN and JBL to make strong inroads in the gaming space, achieve significant growth and set us up well to become true leaders in the esports industry.