By Emre Bilginoglu, Attorney-at-Law, Istanbul, Turkey
The popularity of E-Sports continues apace with some quite exciting developments in Turkey in the last few weeks.
First, Bahcesehir University in Istanbul concluded a scholarship agreement with Riot Games, according to which, the University will be offering scholarships to talented cyber athletes. The University will also provide certificate programmes regarding E-Sports; internship opportunities in Riot Games; and lectures on E-Sports business administration.
This, however, is not the first e-sports related educational development in the world. The University of California, Irvine, also launched a ‘League of Legends’ E-Sports scholarship programme. Riot Games funded a gaming café on its campus. Garnes Vidaregaande Skule was one of the first high schools to put E-Sports into their curriculum. Columbia College in Missouri offers scholarship money for cyber athletes. The University of Pikeville in Kentucky also offers scholarships to cyber athletes.
Another thrilling development for e-sports in Turkey is a major sponsorship agreement. It was announced on 20 March 2017 that Ulker, a leading Turkish food company, will be sponsoring the Turkish ‘League of Legends’ Championship League. Ulker’s parent company, Yildiz Holding, acquired Godiva Chocolatier of Belgium for $850 million in 2008 and United Biscuits of the UK for about $3 billion in 2014. The food giant’s investment in the E-Sports League is no surprise, as various companies were already racing for sponsorship of Turkey’s first professional E-Sports competition.
Teams also attract a multitude of sponsors, varying from online retailers to social media applications. Sponsors aim to draw the attention of three million Turkish players. Regular matches in the League are being seen by an average of a hundred thousand viewers and the final in 2016 was seen by a million viewers. Viewers are expected to grow exponentially, as fans are impatiently waiting for the 2017 finals match.
Perhaps, as its popularity continues to grow and spread around the world, E-Sports may, one day, become an Olympic Sport!
Emre Bilginoglu may be contacted by e-mail at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.