Enduring the Esports Winter

Enduring the Esports Winter

It’s no secret that 2022 and 2023 have ushered in some difficult times for all of esports. Many organizations, and even entire leagues, are struggling with what’s been dubbed “Esports Winter” — a catch-all term for the revenue and investment drought that has seen esports businesses failing to deliver on the high expectations set in previous years.

Team Liquid isn’t exempt from this, of course. But at our core, Team Liquid’s investment in esports isn’t just about the cold, hard numbers. It’s about our love for competing, and our love for our fans. Though 2023 posed its own unique challenges, we head into 2024 with cautious optimism — and a brand new accomplishment to speak of.

This month, Harvard Business School (HBS) published a case study in the Harvard Business Review covering our business model and approach to breaking even in esports. It’s no small task to distill the essence of our 20-year journey into a case study, much less critically analyze the twists and turns we’ve taken to get to where we are, but report authors Youngme Moon and Kerry Herman have done it admirably.

Harvard Business School's case study also highlights our journey and shines a light on the resilience and potential of the esports industry as a whole. We’re deeply honored to be recognized by one of the most prestigious institutions in the business world. We owe this, and any other success we’ve had, to the vibrant and tight-knit community we've built within esports.

“During these turbulent times, it's crucial to remember the bigger picture,” said Steve Arhancet, co-CEO of Team Liquid. “Our main quest goes beyond just thriving in the present. We aim to be a beacon of hope for all those in our space, teams, publishers, and all other stakeholders. Something Team Liquid continues to do is lead and innovate. I hope publishing all the details of our business in this study will assist other companies in our space to push through to esports spring. Team Liquid isn't just a brand — it's a multi-generational sports legacy in the making.”

Our focus on sustainable business practices and deep fan engagement has helped us weather the storm as the Esports Winter stretches ever on. To strengthen our resolve, we’ve been diversifying our revenue. We’re not just investing into the sponsorships, partnerships, and apparel traditional to esports, but also in fan engagement, in creative agency work, and in looking for even more things Liquid could become.

The Harvard Business Review case study goes into detail on our business operations, how we make revenue and how we broke even in one of the toughest years in esports. That’s part of why we’re so honored to be featured in such a prestigious publication, and why we’re so excited to spotlight it. We’ve always aimed to be a rising tide that lifts all boats, and this information can help many organizations, teams, and people grow alongside us. Everyone in esports is affected by tough times, after all — not just us. We’re striving to be a guiding light for the whole industry.

There are many things that go into making the Liquid machine function, but above all, this journey would be incomplete without our fans. Your unwavering support and passion fuel our endeavors and make achievements like this possible. As we continue to innovate in the esports world, we're grateful for your trust and enthusiasm. Together, we're not just surviving Esports Winter — we're planting seeds for a vibrant, enduring Esports Spring.

You can find the HBR article for purchase and download here. We would also like to give special thanks to Youngme and Kerry for speaking with our staff and leadership team at the Alienware Training Facility, and shining a light on the workings of our organization.

A token of our gratitude...

We owe it all to you, the fans, so here are some Liquid points to say thanks for everything you do.