Events DC, the convention and sports authority for Washington D.C., has announced its sponsorship of NRG. This sponsorship is the first of its kind, as no other city or sports authority for a city has sponsored an esports organization before.
In a press release from Events DC, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Events DC Max Brown said, "Through collaborations with organizations like NRG, we are actively working to position ourselves for the future and in the next five to eight years, DC will be positioned to be the capital of esports."
NRG entered Overwatch last summer after signing the mixup roster, a roster NRG investor Shaquille O'Neal famously hyped as "the best Overwatch team in the world." Since then, however, the roster has had stability issues beginning last October when NRG made moves to create a lineup entirely out of former TF2 players. The team did not appear satisfied with the results of that roster, and began trialing new players after MLG Vegas. Only recently has NRG finalized a lineup since then, bringing in harbleu and Ajax.
Logos for Events DC will soon appear on streams of NRG's players and they will also be expected to make promotional appearances for Events DC. Bootcamps for NRG will be held in Washington DC.
This sponsorship leads some to wonder if this was motivated by the lurking presence of Blizzard's city-based Overwatch League, scheduled to start in the third quarter of 2017. In an interview with Mashable, Andy Miller, co-founder and Chairman of NRG, said the first priority was actually making the Overwatch League, although he left the door open for the possibility of a Washington NRG in the OWL.
"We have a wonderfully exciting team that we want to keep together and we want to keep growing and we have a fanbase and we've been in it for a while and we've been carrying the torch for Overwatch for a while now," Miller said. "I do think this is a validation for the city-based approach that they're trying to put together."
NRG's sponsorship with Events DC may lead to NRG playing in the hometown esports arena filled with spectators that Blizzard imagined when they announced the OWL. There are plans for a $65 million, 4,200 seat arena to begin operations between late-2018 and early-2019. It will be host to the Washington Mystics of the WNBA, concerts, boxing matches, and most notably, esports.
"NRG esports is honored to help introduce esports to the city of Washington, DC," said Andy Miller, chairman and co-founder of NRG Esports. "By partnering with such a forward-thinking group as Events DC, NRG will have an even bigger platform to display the excitement and community of our 24/7 sport."
As the creation of an arena that will be esports-friendly suggests, Events DC is hopeful that esports will turn into a method of generating more tourism and more economic growth in America's capital and the surrounding area.
"It's exciting to be on the forefront of an emerging industry and to be able to expand our scope at Events DC to include esports," said Gregory A. O'Dell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Events DC. "Our esports initiative will play a key role in helping to fuel our growth – not only within the District but with an international reach as well."
When he won't be practicing or streaming, NRG star player and Overwatch's most popular streamer, Brandon "Seagull" Larned might be taking the opportunity to sightsee. "It's great to work with an organization like Events DC, their support for NRG and our Overwatch roster is incredible. I really look forward to being able to bootcamp with our roster in a city as historically important as Washington, DC," said Seagull. "Getting to take in all DC has to offer after a long day of practice will be an amazing opportunity."
Recently, NRG dropped out of the upcoming PIT Championship, citing the need for time for the new lineup to "gel" together as a team. While the team still hasn't appeared in an official tournament since MLG Vegas in December, the finalization of their roster means that it shouldn't be long before they are seen in a tournament with Events DC logos on their jerseys.