Baseball, soccer, tennis, basketball — and now, esports: Rakuten has entered yet another realm of the professional sporting world.
On July 23, 2022, Rakuten hosted the first ever “Rakuten esports cup”, a community-oriented event bringing together some 60 different streamers, YouTubers, VTubers and their fans in a celebration of virtual competition.
The event saw the 60 competitors duel it out in popular competitive hero shooter APEX LEGENDSTM, all commentated and available to view online for free. July 23 was just the first of several events, with details for upcoming tournaments yet to be announced.
A feast for the fans
Rakuten’s first esports tournament attracted some serious attention from Japan’s gaming enthusiasts. Over 60 streamers, YouTubers and VTubers competed, ranging from streamers active on platforms such as Twitch, to content creators on YouTube and even VTubers — or virtual YouTubers, a genre of entertainment that enjoys significant popularity in Japan.
The matches were cast by Kosuke Hiraiwa — a prominent esports commentator — alongside radio announcer and sports commentator Hisashi Shimizu. Further analysis was provided by APEX LEGENDSTM pro and caster alelu, and there was a guest appearance from singer and actress Ano.
While the event was free to view live online, a special fan event also took place courtesy of Diamond Dining, a consolidated subsidiary of competition sponsor DD Holdings, giving fans a chance to interact with their gaming idols in person. Also, a campaign was held to give away original APEX LEGENDSTM merchandise and Rakuten Points.
The champions didn’t go home empty-handed, either: The overall winner took home a grand prize of 500,000 Rakuten Points — equivalent to around $3,650 USD — while 300,000 points went to the runner up.
Rakuten is also looking to build a sound business foundation for this new venture by leveraging synergy with other Rakuten offerings. Among the 70+ services Rakuten offers in Japan are video streaming service Rakuten TV, which could provide online broadcasting expertise; ticketing broker Rakuten Ticket, which could manage admissions; and the recently launched Rakuten NFT, which promises significant merchandising potential.
Rakuten will continue to support the esports industry by hosting esports events — let the games commence!