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Shaq was instrumental in laying the foundation for an organic union between NRG and The General Insurance: Brett Lautenbach, President of NRG Esports

Lautenbach feels there is a tremendous opportunity for brands like The General to reach new audiences in engaging and authentic ways
Lautenbach feels there is a tremendous opportunity for brands like The General to reach new audiences in engaging and authentic ways
Abhishek Mallick

The North American Rocket League esports scene saw a historic event a couple of days ago when NRG went into a partnership with The General Insurance.

This landmark merger allows for The General to have the naming rights for the NRG Rocket League roster. This, in turn, can have a significant impact on the future of sponsorships in the esports industry.

In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda Esports’ Abhishek Mallick, Brett Lautenbach, President of NRG Esports, opened up about the partnership and some of the visions that went behind it.

He even touched upon the role that Shaquille O’Neal, one of the world’s most successful athletes-turned-businessman and part-owner of NRG, played in bringing the two organizations together.

Here is an excerpt of the conversation.

Q. Sir, the partnership between NRG Esports and The General Insurance is, by all means, an unprecedented landmark in the history of esports. Can you talk us through some of the thoughts and vision that went behind this partnership and what it means for the esports organization?

Brett: With more than 2.3 billion gamers in the world, and 73% of all gaming and esports enthusiasts 16 to 34 years of age, there is a tremendous opportunity for brands like The General to reach new audiences in engaging and authentic ways.

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The General and NRG both acknowledged early on the natural synergy between the high-octane gameplay of Rocket League and the need for quality auto insurance at affordable rates.

Coming in as the entitlement partner of our historic Rocket League team is such an organic fit for The General. We’re excited that they will be a part of our journey towards another World Championship title and into Season XI.


Q. Shaquille O’Neal, one of the world’s most successful athletes-turned-businessman, who is also part owner of NRG, is known to have played a crucial role in bringing the two organizations together. Can you shed some light on how the former NBA superstar’s experience and expertise helped the partnership come to fruition?

Brett: Like many of our investors, we’re fortunate to have Shaquille, who not only believes in our organization but is always looking for opportunities to take our gaming family to the next level through authentic partnerships, which is how the opportunity with The General came about.

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Shaquille has been a long-time brand ambassador and loyal customer of The General for quite some time and has a deep understanding of who they are as a brand and their audience. Shaq was instrumental in laying the foundation for a seamless and organic union between two parties with very similar customer bases.


Q. The partnership will primarily focus on NRG Esports’ World Champion Rocket League team, effectively naming the roster “The General NRG.” What are some of the goals and changes the NRG Rocket League fans can expect in the coming months?

Brett: In addition to the naming rights, the team, which just won the Rocket League Championship Series Season X 2nd major tournament this February, will be outfitted in The General NRG-branded jerseys for all events. They will debut these jerseys during the next competitive event: the Rocket League Championship Series Season X North America.

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The parties will continue to develop and roll out fan-focused activations through the remainder of Rocket League Championship Season X and into the Major of the Spring Split.

Q. The partnership is currently limited to just the NRG Esports Rocket League roster. Are there plans of bringing it across other NRG teams like that for Valorant and Fortnite?

Brett: This entitlement partnership is focused on NRG’s team who has proven to be one of Rocket League’s most consistent and potent competitive forces.

They won the Rocket League World Championship in December 2019 and reached the mountaintop once again in early 2021. This set the tone for a year of continued competitive success and organizational growth, highlighted by this unique partnership with The General.

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Q. What are your thoughts on the impact that this partnership can have on naming rights in the gaming industry?

Brett: The partnership with The General has immense potential to be a pivotal point for brands to see the tremendous opportunity esports can provide in reaching their target audiences.

With more than 2.3 billion gamers globally, I think this is only the beginning of seeing naming rights in the gaming and esports industry. We are beyond thrilled to have The General as the entitlement partner for our historic Rocket League team.


Q. The NRG Castle has become quite popular with in-house content. Fortnite fans love to see the banter between these young pros; what are NRG’s future plans with these talented pros and content creators?

Brett: We’re thrilled with the reception to Content Castle. It’s been an absolute dream for NRG to finally have a central location where players can come to be together and create awesome content. We’ll continue to use the facility as a central hub for our players, content, and other activations.


Q. With Riot Games’ Valorant gaining a tremendous amount of success with the launch of their Champions Tour event, it’s safe to say that the shooter’s esports scene is bound to see significant growth in the near future. Unfortunately, the NRG Esports Valorant team could not perform as their fans expected during both Stage1 and Stage 2 of the qualifiers, leading to coach Chet Singh parting ways with the side. What are some of your plans for revitalizing NRG Valorant in the coming months?

Brett: Our goal from the beginning has been to build a foundation that will set NRG VALORANT up for long-term success. While we haven’t gone out and won a bunch of championships just yet, the current roster has shown a ton of potential.

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We’ve had wins over some of the best teams in the region, including 100T, Sentinels, LG, Gen.G over the past few events. We feel we have the individual talent to beat any team, so the plan is to continue building teamwork and cohesion until we consistently contend for titles.


Q. Which esports title has been the most successful venture till now for NRG Esports?

Brett: It’s tough to say; all of the titles we’re currently in have been incredible. We try to work within games where we think we can make a long-lasting impact. For example, we’ve been in Rocket League for almost five years now. In that time, the game has grown tremendously, and our strategy within that has changed as well.

We think it’s a great model for how we like to activate within gaming communities.


Q. Since NRG already has an existing roster in Clash Royale, are there any plans to expand to other games by Supercell?

Brett: No immediate plans on the horizon.


Q. In 2021, can NRG fans expect a roster in a new esports title?

Brett: We’ll see. The possibility is always there.

Edited by Ravi Iyer

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