GEICO is excited to announce the launch of our GEICO Gaming Ambassadors program! To expand our efforts in the ever-growing online gaming space, we aim to support individuals we feel help shape the gaming community in the best way.
What Is Esports?
The video game industry is enormous: In 2017 alone, video games generated over $100 billion in revenue. Whether it’s someone slipping in a round of Candy Crush while they’re getting coffee in the morning or practicing hours into the night at a complex game like Battlerite, gamers are popping up everywhere. With an increase in gamers comes an increased interest in watching others play games, but to those unfamiliar the concept sounds alien— why watch someone play a video game instead of playing one yourself?
Many folks’ experience with games is limited to their exposure as a child, with popular titles like Pacman, Space Invaders, or even the pioneer, Pong, at the forefront of thought. However, those aren’t the most popular titles being watched today. Competitive online video games—or “esports”—are designed in a way that forces players to outwit each other in an incredibly fast-paced environment with options so variable they number in the literal thousands. The complexity of these games actually make it impossible to play perfectly against your opponent, and that room for error provides the opportunity for those with fast reflexes and deeper understanding of the game to out-maneuver and out-think their competition.
Take Riot Games’ online multiplayer title League of Legends (LoL), for example. There are currently no less than 140 characters in the game, and each character has five abilities. To be considered barely competent at playing, one must first memorize the abilities of all characters so that they are not surprised by any strategies the enemy team concocts—a whopping 700 abilities not only to remember, but also to strategize around. This overabundance of material to master still doesn’t take into account the variety of ways different characters interact with each other, nor the combinations of hundreds of purchasable items to make characters more powerful.
It’s no wonder gaming celebrities who livestream their gameplay are becoming ever more popular to watch on platforms like Twitch.tv and YouTube Gaming. Riot Games’ recent international Mid-Season Invitational, for instance, saw 60 million unique viewers worldwide tune in for the finals.
How Is GEICO Already Involved In Gaming?
GEICO first entered the realm of online gaming and esports in 2015 by sponsoring the US-based TSM, perennial national championship contenders in League of Legends and top competitors in several other games. Shortly afterwards in 2016, we partnered with Panda Global (PG)—the premiere 1v1 esports team, particularly within the Fighting Game Community (FGC).
With the launch of our team sponsorships, GEICO began attending several of the major gaming events across the U.S. to further connect with the incredibly passionate gaming audience. In June 2018, we were the presenting sponsors at Community Effort Orlando, a unique event where pro players play video games from inside a wrestling ring and have wrestling-themed cinematic entrances. Earlier in 2018 GEICO hosted a Hearthstone Showdown tournament at PAX South and PAX East, giving up-and-coming amateur players the ability to compete with some of the top Hearthstone players for a chance at a $10,000 prize pool. Additionally, GEICO has sponsored Turner’s ELEAGUE since 2016, showcasing some of the highest quality productions in esports.
In line with our aim to provide for both amateur aspirants and veteran players, GEICO also runs GEICO Gaming Weekly Play-ins, weekly open-invite online tournaments for the FGC games Tekken 7 and Street Fighter V. Along with a weekly prize pool of $1600 for anyone skilled enough to make it through the bracket, top circuit point winners will be flown out to San Francisco for the live Final GEICO Championships in December 2018.
Who Are The GEICO Gaming Ambassadors?
The first four GEICO Gaming Ambassadors are none other than Brian Kibler, Imane “Pokimane” Anys, Jeffrey “TrumpSC” Shih (no political affiliation), and Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang! All of these individuals have exhibited not only the ability to innovate and lead within the esports community, but to do so in a positive and constructive manner. These four streamers hold remarkable poise in the face of adversity, setting an example to follow for the hundreds of thousands of viewers who tune in every month.
If there is any name that is synonymous with competitive card games, it’s Brian Kibler. Over the past two decades, Brian has played at the highest levels of competition across multiple games, earning numerous championship titles and even induction into the Magic the Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Fame. Additionally, he’s worked as a designer on major games like the original World of Warcraft TCG and VS System TCG, among others. Nowadays, he mainly streams Hearthstone, where he’s known for his love of dragon decks and ceaselessly optimistic candor. As one of the casters for Activision Blizzard’s Hearthstone Championship Tour circuit, he is one of the most recognized and respected voices in the game. Brian brings that same voice to “Omni/Stone,” a weekly show where he, James “Firebat” Kostesich , and Dan “Frodan” Chou discuss topical strategies and news surrounding the competitive scene in Hearthstone. GEICO is excited to see how he will continue to soar with his “DragonArmy” fan base and adorable Pomeranian Shiro to new heights!
“GEICO has been doing exciting things in the esports space for a while now, and I’m excited to get a chance to work with them and be a part of what comes next.” – Brian Kibler
Imane “Pokimane” Anys
Although Imane is the youngest of the GEICO Gaming Ambassadors, her streaming career is already prolific. She grew up in Canada and first started streaming League of Legends while enrolled in school as a part-time hobby. However, after seeing continued success and rampant growth in followership, she moved to Los Angeles and started the streamer house “Offline TV” as one of its founding members. Pokimane’s continued success has earned her notoriety as the first female streamer to ever garner over one million followers on Twitch and she was elected “Streamer of the Year” at the 2018 Shorty Awards. Noted for her cheerful demeanor and entertaining reactions to events in-game, her streaming foundation is League of Legends, but she also produces a variety of content in other popular game titles like Fortnite, shares “IRL” streams of her day-to-day life, and hosts the “Poki Podcast” once a week on her channel. GEICO is very happy to support Pokimane as she and her kitten Mimi continue to pave the way for live content creation!
“I’m really excited and honored to be starting this partnership with GEICO! They’ve taken great strides in being a part of the gaming community, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to join them on this journey.” – Pokimane 2018
Jeffrey “TrumpSC” Shih
If any of you have been following GEICO Gaming for the past few years, the name TrumpSC should look familiar! Jeffrey Shih is one of the most recognizable faces in Hearthstone, and has been collaborating with GEICO Gaming events as far back as 2016. He began his streaming career in the old days of Starcraft 2, but was one of the first well-known players to gain recognition as the Hearthstone scene began to burgeon in 2014. The Austin-based professional player is well-known for his strong focus on educational content, consistently trying to encourage players of all skill levels to improve their own gameplay and to keep hopes high for improving at the game. TrumpSC is a part of Tempo Storm and runs a popular series titled “Trump Reviews,” wherein he discusses the viability of implementing new cards as they are released. GEICO is definitely looking forward to helping TrumpSC, the “Mayor of Value Town,” promote positive mindsets and healthy growth for his online audience.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with GEICO Gaming for the last few years and it’ll be great working with them officially moving forward! I’m the mayor of value town and I approve this value partnership. My relatively new sweet ride is insured with GEICO!”
Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang
Jeremy Wang’s innovation and drive have certainly earned him a permanent place among the Hearthstone elite. Coincidentally also from Canada, he originally became popular within the gaming community by creating Hearthstone videos on YouTube, but caught the attention and love of many online by streaming while wearing a mask shaped like a piece of bread with sunglasses and a mustache, an homage to his gamer handle. Although he no longer sports the wheat-inspired headgear, Jeremy is constantly pushing the limits of what’s possible on Twitch. Whether it’s using a green screen to act as one of the Hearthstone characters while playing or programming an automated tool to allow his own live chat to vote on which cards to play next, his streams are always fun to engage with. He currently resides in Los Angeles with Pokimane in the Offline TV streaming house, and GEICO couldn’t be happier to be partnering with him!
“Excited to be officially working with GEICO—one of my biggest tournament splashes was in fact at one of GEICO’s sponsored Hearthstone events. They have been in the Hearthstone scene for a few years now, and I’ve experienced nothing but professionalism and quality from them!” – Disguised Toast 2018
By Reza Mahmud