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NRG Esports and used car marketplace Carvana are teaming up with the Network of Academic and Scholastic Esports Federations (NASEF) to host a Rocket League combine. Students over 18 can sign up and compete for a one year content creator contract with NRG a grand prize of $10,000.
“NRG is beyond excited to collaborate with Carvana on what has been a long-time passion project for our
organization,” says Brandon Tortora, head of sales and brand partnerships at NRG. “United by our
mutual dedication to technology and crafting outstanding interactive experiences, we are eager to give
aspiring talents this stage so they can shine. This event is not merely a skills challenge, but a platform
where we hope to discover and nurture the next generation of Rocket League talent, fostering an
environment where dreams can become a reality and possibly unveiling the next big pro in the scene.”
The event will take place November 11-12, 2023 at the NRG Castle in downtown Los Angeles. The competition will test players’ Rocket League skills through a variety of challenges and game play.
Combine competitors can meet NRG’s current Rocket League roster and signed content creator musty.
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Rocket League legacy
Rocket League has a long history of being one of the most sponsored esports titles. In addition to its watchability, Rocket League’s car-based gameplay and lack of violence lends itself to brand partnerships.
In addition to branded in-game cars, Rocket League has brought in a number of first time automotive brand esports sponsorships including Mobil 1, KIA, Renault, Lamborghini, and more. Case in point, Carvana — a leading online retailer for used cars — is sponsoring the event.
“We respect the community, talent and passion fueling the growth of esports and are so excited to
collaborate with NRG as we take our brand mantra of driving people happy to the next level with this new
partnership,” said Ryan Keeton, cofounder and chief brand officer of Carvana. “All are invited to live
stream the first-ever Carvana | NRG Combine where we’ll give aspiring esports athletes this amazing
opportunity to join the NRG team with a year-long sponsorship.”
NRG esports also has a prestigious history in Rocket League, winning the Season 8 World Championships and six North American championships. The organization has also used this legacy of excellence to its advantage, securing a naming rights deal with The General insurance for its Rocket League team for Seasons X and XI.
The Carvana | NRG Combine is prioritizing outreach to students. The NASEF partnership allows both NRG and Carvana to reach out to scholastic esports programs across the U.S. more directly.
“NASEF is thrilled to partner with Carvana and NRG to present such a fantastic event for students,” said
Claire LaBeaux, CMO at NASEF. “Our objective is to always blend play and learning and to help students develop relevant career skills. The combination of Rocket League gameplay and video production will engage a lot of excited youth in this Combine.”
Alongside fielding students to participate, the event will also serve as an esports business bootcamp. Students in attendance will have the opportunity to learn from industry experts as well as improve their Rocket League skills.
The educational component of this partnership is also particularly valuable to Carvana. Its online-only, used car marketplace tends to appeal to younger tech-savvy consumers like esports fans. The partnership helps to more specifically target these young consumers.
This partnership’s educational angle is part of a growing trend across esports. As the esports winter picks up and ad spending is down across the board, more teams have added an educational or charitable angles to their brand partnerships.
While this was not a factor in closing this particular partnership per an NRG spokesperson, corporate charitable giving laws could be playing a role in this larger trend. In addition to goodwill with fans, contributions to non-profit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations like the NASEF can give companies benefits like tax deductions and contribute to ESG-related initiatives.
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