Coming off of a first place finish at The International in 2017, Team Liquid is once again focused on the highest level of success at The International DOTA 2 tournament. In 2018, though, the team has some extra help, thanks to a partnership with SAP.
In April, software solutions company SAP signed its first eSports partnership, aligning itself with Team Liquid. Recognizing the growing fascination of consumers with eSports, SAP broadened its partnership strategy, which is heavily invested in the traditional sport space, to include eSports.
“We at SAP have a rich history in traditional sports where we have quite a few partnerships,” said Milan Černý, technology & innovation lead of SAP global sponsorships. “In 2017 we decided to look into eSports as a potential target for partnerships. We went to events and spoke to different stakeholders and evaluated what eSports is about, who the stakeholders are and what’s important to prepare a good strategy for SAP.”
Through this process, Team Liquid came to the forefront of potential partners for SAP.
“At some point during the summer of 2017 we spoke to Team Liquid for the first time,” Černý recounted. “It was an amazing conversation, because it really was open and frank. We spoke a lot about our approach to sport partnerships and how Team Liquid sees partnerships and how they approach technology.”
After the conversation, SAP went to its drawing board and began discussing and researching how it could integrate its technology to meet Team Liquid’s needs. For Team Liquid, the need was to gain insights into how to earn the last percentage points in games to unlock their top performances.
“With top gamers, it becomes more difficult the better they get,” Černý noted. “That’s where Team Liquid saw the potential in working with us. The software in our portfolio takes data from a game, processes it in a really short amount of time and produces insights they couldn’t get elsewhere.”
SAP notes that currently the partnership focuses on the use of game data to optimize Team Liquid’s performance, but that over time, “they will be able to do anything they want” with the software. For now, though, Team Liquid’s coaches have seen their tournament preparation process streamlined.
“We are able to produce insights, such as patterns and movements, that coaches would otherwise have to go through hours and hours of replay material in a labor intensive process to access,”Černý said. “Software helps automate these processes quite a bit and now coaches can access this information really quickly.”
Early in the partnership, SAP has found positive anecdotes of how Team Liquid is using its technology.
“One of the most defining points in the partnership was an on-site workshop we had with the entire team in the Netherlands,” Černý reflected. “We spoke to players, coaches and managers, who really opened up about what they told us in terms of what they can do and can’t. We had our developers with us and it was super interesting seeing what we unlocked just through speaking about things and new ideas. Our developer team sat down in the evening and worked through the night taking all of the feedback and implemented something they could use straightaway the next day. 80-percent of the things Team Liquid said they needed were in the software already.”
While Team Liquid has benefitted from the insights provided through SAP’s software, SAP has likewise enjoyed benefits under the partnership. Where the benefits have come from, though, may be surprising.
“We are a tech and software company, which doesn’t produce end-consumer products, but rather business-to-business solutions. As such, it’s more difficult to attract people to work for us,” Černý reflected. “We identified eSports as a good way to get in touch with young talent–people who are graduating right now and looking for their first job or next step in their careers.”
While SAP plans to use its partnership with Team Liquid to recruit new employees, its current employees are already celebrating the collaboration.
“Since we started with Team Liquid, we have received feedback from employees all over the world. We have an internal community with 1,200 people who are really enthusiastic about and discussing Team Liquid,” Černý said.