Esports is an increasingly popular category of organized virtual competition. Today, millions of gamers compete formally and informally online across nearly every age group under 40. With the rise of esports comes a new group of engaged influencers.
What are esports about?
Esports encompass all things pertaining to video games on PC, consoles, virtual reality systems, and mobile devices.
Some of the best esports influencers are casual players who’ve managed to connect with large audiences. YouTube is the preferred platform for popular gamers to upload their gameplay streams and commentary. Twitch is another leading social media platform for gamers and esports athletes.
The esports industry also includes all levels of professional and amateur video game competitive events. Esports influencers may be professional athletes, but not all professional esports athletes qualify as influencers.
The esports market
“Most projections put the esports ecosystem on track to surpass $1 billion in revenue for the first time this year. And revenue is expected to grow from here—Newzoo projects it to hit $1.8 billion by 2022. Money flows into esports through media rights, live event ticket sales, merchandise sales, and in-game purchases, but most of the revenue (69%) comes from sponsorships and advertising.” – Insider Intelligence, 2021
Gaming brands stand to gain the most from strategic partnerships with skilled gamers and social media creators. Alongside sponsorships and revenue earned through competitive events, these brands often lean on the authentic endorsements of popular esports influencers online (namely streaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch).
Additionally, video game accessory and equipment brands also invest in gamer partnerships. Gamers demonstrate remarkable expertise in their field, and product recommendations inform fan purchasing decisions.
One unique consideration for the esports industry is the age of players and influencers. Some esports influencers are surprisingly young and start YouTubing in middle school (or earlier). If you’re considering a partnership with younger influencers, be sure to adhere to FCC rules and COPPA regulations.
Esports creators and their impact on brands
Well-known esports athletes may or may not have meaningful relationships with their fans. That said, some gamer celebrities like Kyle Giersdorf and Artour Babaev, are happy to endorse products that they love, and those endorsements attract the attention of millions of esports fans.
And most gamer influencers do more than play video games. For example, one influencer in our top 20 list (GamingWithJen) is both a fashion and esports influencer.
Gamer influencers love to partner with nonprofits, and they are particular about their gaming equipment such as CPUs, controllers, monitors, chairs, mics, and headphones. Many of them compete in formal tournaments online and around the world.
You will find more success recruiting esports influencers if you cater to the things they love. For example, most of these influencers enjoy testing new products and reviewing them for audiences online.
The gaming community is fairly tight-knit. It’s likely that the influencer you’re interested in is a member of a team or group like The Taco Crew or Banana Bus Squad. Partnering with one of these gamers might mean impromptu, bonus appearances by their equally-popular esports colleagues.
20 esports creators brands should know
Influencer #1: VanossGaming
Evan Fong is Vanoss and a member of the Banana Bus Squad, a popular online community of gamers. Evan is also comedic and musically-inclined. These talents give him an edge over other esports influencers on our list.
Influencer #2: SSSniperWolf
The gamer world tends to be dominated by males. But that hasn’t stopped female gamers like UK’s Lia Shelesh, more popularly known as SSSniperWolf, from making their mark. She is also Ranya Lasagna’s (another YouTuber) sister.
Influencer #3: Blitz
None but those closest to Blitz know his real name. But we do know that he is an engineer with a family and loves gaming on the side. We also know that he is the founder of Blitztopia, an online gaming community. He prides himself on being family-friendly and a true lover of esports.
Influencer #4: Dollastic Plays
Janet is Dollastic Plays and a member of the informally-dubbed “Taco Crew,” which includes Gamer Chad, Microguardian, RadioJH Games, and a few others. She is also the spouse of Ryan at Microguardian.
Influencer #5: PewDiePie
Many regard Felix Arvid Ulf Kejllberg, or PewDiePie, to be a pioneer YouTube gamer influencer. Today, he has one of the largest platform followings on YouTube. Felix is most famous for helping Minecraft develop their virtual playground and characters.
Influencer #6: RadioJH Games
RadioJH Games’ first name is Audrey (last name unknown), and she is a favorite among Minecraft and Roblox gamers. Audrey plays online most often with her brother, RadioJH Auto, and Gamer Chad. She is also a member of the “Taco Crew.”
Influencer #7: Stampylonghead
Joseph Garrett is a 30-year-old from the United Kingdom and founder of Stampylonghead. Fans know him by his original Minecraft character, Stampy Cat.
Besides being an esports influencer and YouTuber, Joseph is also a writer and voice actor.
He began his YouTubing career after accepting offers to review games online. Today, he spends most of his time online making Minecraft videos for fans on YouTube and engaging them on Facebook and Twitter.
Influencer #8: Syndicate
Thomas George Cassell, operates with the screen name Syndicate or The Syndicate Project, and is one YouTube’s most popular esports athletes.
Thomas prefers combat, first-person games, such as Halo, Cold War Zombies, and Call of Duty. His two most popular channels are YouTube and Twitch, but you can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Influencer #9: GamingWithJen
Jen is a highly-animated YouTube gamer, proud cat owner, and lover of fashionable outfits. Her personal life is somewhat famous, and her separation with her gamer ex-husband had a ripple effect on the gaming community. GamingWithJen is a popular destination for those obsessed with Roblox.
Influencer #10: AngryJoeShow
Jose Antonio Vargas entertains millions on YouTube with his rant-like videos and game reviews – hence the name, AngryJoeShow. Even though he maintains a comically irate persona, his vlogs and game reviews are insightful and highly-regarded by fans and peers alike.
It’s hard to tell if Jose has a favorite game – he seems to want to play them all. When he’s not reviewing video games, he’s reviewing popular movie releases. Jose operates primarily on Twitter and YouTube.
Influencer #11: Gamer Chad
Gamer Chad (Chad Alan) is the next member of the YouTube-famous “Taco Crew,” alongside RadioJH Games and Microguardian. Chad is obsessed with Roblox and also goes by the screen name Baby Alan.
Influencer #12: CoryxKenshin
Cory DeVante Williams is known in the gamer community as “The Shogun Himself” and manages the YouTube account, CoryxKenshin. He has developed scores of game series for his fans, including Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Spooky Scary Sundays, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Minecraft, and more.
Influencer #13: MicroGuardian
MicroGuardian’s real name is Ryan Michael, and besides being a leading member of the “Taco Crew,” he also stars in videos with his wife, Dollastic Plays. Ryan plays Roblox and Minecraft almost exclusively.
Influencer #14: LDShadowLady
Lizzie hails from the UK and is LDShadowLady, one of the top Minecraft influencers on YouTube and Twitch. She was 17 when she launched her YouTube channel, and it now has over six million subscribers.
Influencer #15: ItsFunneh
Canadian Kat Le is the mastermind behind the Krew and the YouTube channel, ItsFunneh. The Krew features Kat’s siblings, GoldenGlare (Kim), Lunar Eclipse (Wenny), PaintingRainbows (Betty), and DraconiteDragon (Allen).
Influencer #16: Ninja
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is one of the most decorated esports influencers online today and is regarded by many to be the top gaming streamer of all time. His favorite games include Battle Royale, Streamer, Fortnite, Valorant, and Warzone.
Influencer #17: DanTDM
Daniel Middleton, famous as DanTDM online, made waves beyond esports in 2016 when he set the Guinness Book of World Records for “most views for a dedicated Minecraft channel — 7.9 billion at the time” (according to Forbes). Today, Daniel is one of the most popular gamers on YouTube and Twitch.
Influencer #18: Bin Zaid Gaming
Bin Zaid is an accomplished esports athlete from India and fast-growing streamer on YouTube. He is also one of the best Garena Free Fire (Battle Royale) players online. His goal is “to teach every gamer how to increase their efficiency.”
In addition to YouTube, Bin is also active on Instagram.
Influencer #19: 8-BitRyan
8-BitRyan is perhaps one of the most theatrical esports influencers online. We don’t know his last name, but his first name is Ryan. He appears to have no game favorites – he wants to try them all. But Ryan likes to leave the screen from time to time, such as the time he partnered with St. Judes for a fundraising event that ended with him skydiving dressed as various characters from Friday Nights at Freddy’s.
Influencer #20: The Game Theorists
For a more philosophical and scientific approach to video games, Matthew Patrick – or MatPat, The Game Theorists – “nerds out” on background and insights to today’s most popular video games. Matt is also a beloved father and husband, joining State Farm for the latest St. Jude’s fundraising event.
Esports influencers are among the most fascinating groups of influencers online. They typically maintain vibrant relationships with fans and are particular about the brands that they partner with. Using the list above, you can determine which gamer influencers are a good fit for your brand.
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