Comcast Spectacor on T1 Joint-Venture, and Globalizing Korean Esports


Credit: Comcast Spectacor

Comcast Spectacor Database-Link-e1521645463907 has dominated headlines this week with a planned $50M USD arena for its Overwatch League Database-Link-e1521645463907 (OWL) team, the Philadelphia Fusion Database-Link-e1521645463907. Those keeping track of trends will remember that this is the American sports company’s second major disruption of 2019. On Feb. 25, Spectacor announced it would team up with SK Telecom to co-run the South Korean company’s T1 esports brand, which includes a three-time League of Legends Database-Link-e1521645463907 World Champion team.

On the TEO Podcast, Spectacor Gaming president Tucker Roberts referred to South Korea as the industry’s most developed region culturally—in terms of accepting esports professionals and lifestyles. When the company was looking for a follow-up venture to OWL, it wanted to go beyond its increasingly crowded native space. With China being a politically difficult market to expand to, the obvious choice was South Korea.

“Nobody is globalizing Korean content for esports and gaming, when they should be,” said Roberts. “That’s the genesis of where we thought we could take this brand, and what we could do. Serve an underserved part of the market, instead of going after the exact same thing that other teams are doing.”

Both Roberts and Joe Marsh, the CFO for Spectacor Gaming, first visited the country just over a year ago. “We fell in love and appreciated the gaming culture in Korea,” said Marsh. “We popped into a PUBG event, and it was packed with female fans…in America, you don’t just walk into an esports event on a Tuesday.”

Despite its competitive prowess, the South Korean esports market has remained fairly insular as far as marketing and merchandising goes. Several of the country’s best-known esports franchises are works teams, financed by telecommunication and insurance companies with limited reach outside of Korea. “There’s a lot that we can bring to globalize [Korean esports] with Comcast, NBC, Universal, and now Sky,” said Roberts. “For example, simply translating on video what is said to English goes a long way, and wasn’t standard practice before.”

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While long-term plans are being kept close to the chest, Marsh did divulge that T1 Entertainment and Sports was scouting locations for a Seoul headquarters and training space. “T1’s a legendary team, and it’s not very often you get to start a venture where your team is one of the best in the world, and universally known as such,” he said.

“Nobody is globalizing Korean content for esports and gaming, when they should be,” 

“It gives us the ability to go to sponsors and key partners, and have that credibility and be able to discuss with them: ‘hey, we have this legendary team. You’ve heard of Faker, let’s talk about long term partnerships that are mutually beneficial for both groups.’ Instead of just NASCAR’ing it up and sticking stickers everywhere.”

When the T1 news hit esports messageboards, there were some disappointed reactions to dropping “SKT” from the name. SK Telecom is part of the SK Group, one of South Korea’s largest Chaebols (large, family-owned business conglomerates). As far as esports fans were concerned, SKT T1 Database-Link-e1521645463907 is a legendary team name, one that has been in existence since 2002.

However, SKT is still a trademarked entity, and both companies want to build the brand around the “T1” visual. Roberts notes that this would not remove the possibility of a vintage SKT T1 merchandise run in the future. “If fans want to continue to chant ‘SKT,’ that’s great,” he added, before drawing a comparison to NHL team the Montreal Canadians, which fans still refer to as the Habs. “Nicknames happen in sports and esports all the time. That’s organic and awesome.”

Regarding the name change, Tucker also joked that; “it was actually Tyler1 who hit me up and said he really wanted a T1 Draven skin,” referring to the League of Legends personality and streamer Tyler “Tyler1” Steinkamp. “I said we’d see if we can make it happen.”

The TEO Podcast is available on both iTunes and Spotify.


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