Anatomy of a Deal: How Misfits Gaming Group’s Expanded Partnership With the Heat and Magic Happened

When Misfits Gaming Group Co-Founder and CEO Ben Spoont expanded the company’s deal with the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, he knew they had something special. A first-of-its-kind in esports, MGG partnered with the two NBA teams, giving them the rights to include MGG in partnership deals as well as assist in marketing, promotion, digital, and sponsorship sales. By doing this Spoont increased the organization’s marketing reach by leaps and bounds while the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic gained the opportunity to usher in a new cross-section of fans from the esports scene on a global scale.

In order to make that happen, a first-of-its-kind deal in esports history needed to take place. 

And that’s exactly what happened. An esports organization with teams in the League of Legends European Championship and the vaunted Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues had partnered with two NBA teams in the same state giving both the rights to engage in partnership deals.

However, to even get to the starting point for a partnership such as this, a little known rule was used in order to create this sort of deal.

“What we at Misfits Gaming Group found out was that two NBA teams in a state can actually come together and waive their rights to do combined deals and allow them to do statewide deals,” Spoont told the Esports Observer. “The teams can come together and work on combined sponsorship deals that cover the entire marketing area of the entire state. We thought together with the Magic and the Heat that the best way to try to leverage that rule was actually to try to do this in esports first with the NBA teams, because there’s less complications and barriers with existing conflicts. There’s only so many categories that these guys have open.”

The very moment that partnership extension was signed, brands and sponsors that were previously unreachable or hesitant to look into the esports space could now be approached by both of these NBA teams who had garnered relationships and trust with brands already in their portfolio.

The Magic were already working with brands such as Walt Disney, Pepsico, and Advent Health, while the Heat worked with American Airlines, McDonald’s, Florida Blue, and others.

JT McWalters, vice president of corporate partnership activation & strategy for the Orlando Magic tells TEO that recognizing the regional and global benefits associated with partnering with an esports organization such as the Misfits Gaming Group was important to the Magic as an organization.

“If you’re not in eSports, I feel like your partnership team is limited. That was why we jumped in as one of the first teams with the NBA2K without hesitation,” McWalters said. “As we look at this opportunity with Misfits, we know that esports is trying to establish local fan bases. We’re really excited about that and we think we can help with the building of a local fan base that then allows us to bring in sales partners to see the true value and a touch and feel opportunity once we can bring live events again.”

To that end, the Magic are ready and able to help potential non-endemic partners understand the space a little better because of what they have already learned being partnered with Misfits.

“You gotta make it easy for these brands to understand what’s going on. We hope we’ve done that,” McWalters said. “These deals can encompass the entire state of Florida and showing potential partners how to activate esports in retail and other areas can put these partners at ease.” 

In the end, what this deal has done for Misfits is that it has allowed the organization to continue to solidify itself with a fan base derived from the strong connections established with the Magic and Heat. To Spoont, the term “regional” has a larger meaning for the esports organization and he knows that the Magic and Heat can be a driving force behind educating and bringing in more partners.

“What we really want to do at the end of the day is own the state of Florida between the three of us. If anyone is thinking about esports in Florida and wants to be involved, they’re going to  want to be associated with us,” Spoont said. “The Heat and the Magic. They’re talking with the Cokes and the Pepsis of the world, right? The Budweisers of the world. That’s an area that you really don’t see cracked in esports quite yet. I think we’ll be able to leverage relationships there to the benefit of everyone.”

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