The Charlotte Hornets have selected a name and brand for their new esports team: The Hornets Venom GT.
In choosing the name of the team, the Hornets wanted to “maintain synergy” with the rest of the brand, according to Hornets President and Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield. Venom is, of course, what hornets emit when they sting. The logo is teal and white, like its NBA team’s colors, and evokes “the piercing and threatening gaze of a hornet,” Whitfield added.
Esports refers to competitive video games, usually involving multiple players.
The Hornets announced in April the launch of their local esports team. The team becomes the 22nd franchise in the NBA 2K League, a professional esports league co-founded by the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software. The Hornets Venom will debut in 2020.
Esports have grown increasingly popular in recent years, especially with young sports fans. The global esports market this year is on pace to top $1 billion in revenue for the first time, according to industry analysis firm Newzoo. By 2022, the industry could reach $1.8 billion, the firm anticipates.
“The biggest thing this does is connect us with a younger audience ... that’s really into esports. With Charlotte being one of the fastest growing millennial markets, this helps us get our name out there in esports,” Whitfield said.
The Hornets Venom is celebrating the launch of the team’s branding this week by stenciling the team name and logo onto 20 sidewalks throughout Charlotte, the team said in a statement Thursday.
Friday morning, the team will be giving away free coffee and team products at the Charlotte Transportation Center station on the LYNX Light Rail from 7:30-9:15. And Friday night, the team will hold a launch event at Triple C Brewery with free beer tokens to the first 100 fans and giveaways from 6 to 8.
New revenue sources
Starting an esports team is also a way the team can tap into new revenue sources, since the bulk of the industry’s revenue comes from from sponsorships, media rights, advertising and tickets.
NBA 2K teams will have jersey patches just like NBA teams, for instance.
The Hornets have a jersey patch deal with LendingTree, the Charlotte-based online marketplace that matches borrowers with lenders. The Hornets Venom could opt to extend a deal with the fintech company, too.
Next up for the esports team is announcing a coach and unveiling a court and uniform design, according to Nicole Blackman, the Hornet’s senior manager of esports.