Splyce's Snake Circle Mark

This story originally appeared in Sporttechie.com

Delaware North, the parent company of the Boston Bruins and TD Garden in Boston, announced Thursday its partnership with eSports up-and-comer Splyce after buying a piece of the team. The hospitality and food service company is now positioned to capitalize on the growing global popularity of eSports.

The hospitality giant wants to help the Rochester, N.Y.-based Splyce build its brand while giving it the resources needed to compete at the highest levels. TD Garden and the Bruins will play a part in Splyce’s ascension in the near future.

“The vision is to be geographically based,” Delaware North chief marketing officer Todd Merry said. “We see Splyce, assuming everything works out long term, becoming Boston’s hometown eSports team.

“And in the long term, we see TD Garden becoming the logical home to Splyce.”

Delaware North will soon help Splyce conduct youth outreach programs and clinics to build up grassroots support.

The partnership between the multibillion-dollar organization that operates food, beverage and retail services for clients in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS should help provide Splyce with a vast amount of resources eSports teams need to dominate global leagues.

In the last two years, Delaware North commissioned two different studies about the future of sports. The second “Future of Sports,” published last October, touched on the growth potential of eSports, which already boasts a global fan base of over 300 million.

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North first became interested in Splyce through mutual upstate business connections. Merry met with Splyce CEO and president Marty Strenczewilk roughly eight months ago. The two sides began to hash out what each would bring to the table, with Merry focused on making sure his company could offer Splyce a real chance to grow.

“First and foremost, we feel like we are going to help (Splyce) sell sponsorships; secondly we can help build their brand,” said Merry, a self-admitted gamer who has followed the rise of eSports since its inception. “We have resources to help them.”

Splyce’s new Overwatch team is set to begin eight weeks of training at Delaware North’s newly acquired Sea Crest Beach Hotel on Cape Cod right away. “We love Marty’s vision, and we love where they are going, so we aren’t going to sit down and say enter this game or go recruit these people,” Merry said.

Instead, Delaware North offers Splyce the chance to improve training, increase its talent pool and expand its fan appeal.

Delaware North chairman Jeremy Jacobs has also owned the Boston Bruins since 1975. Widely regarded as one of the best owners in sports, his 42 years of experience helping the Bruins win at a high level can only help Splyce.

“This partnership with Delaware North allows us unfettered access to a championship-caliber training staff, expert guidance on key areas of monetization and rock-solid infrastructure that can allow us to skyrocket our growth and maturation as a global sports franchise,” Strenczewilk said in a statement.

Splyce was founded in 2015 as “TV guide” for eSports fans. But after acquiring a few teams, it quickly transformed into a global organization with nine teams competing across nine different games, including League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The eSports newcomer qualified for the League of Legends World Championship a year after its founding. Delaware North thinks the partnership offers Splyce the chance to become a major force in the booming international sport.

“When you look at what Splyce achieved in such a short period of time, and with folks like Marty involved in running the origination, we really do believe they can be one of those top five eSports franchises, in the same discussion with (Team) Liquid and Cloud9,” Merry said. “You know all the brands that are really household names in the eSports firmament today.”

Washington Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Magic Johnson now own the controlling interest in Team Liquid. Shaquille O’Neal also has invested in eSports. And the NBA just announced a partnership to form an NBA 2K league.

Although eSports leagues and games have increased in popularity, Delaware North understands it cannot force Splyce on Boston sports fans.

“We want to go a little bit softly with some of the crossover,” Merry said.

“We know that not all Bruins fans are naturally going to be eSports fans. But we also have a belief that eSports will continue to grow, and that more and more of our future fans will be eSports fans as well.”