Amaya Inc. owned PokerStars has announced a new sponsorship deal with major esports organisation Team Liquid.
The terms of the deal will see several Team Liquid pros, including LiquidTLO, introduce poker into their gaming repertoire and showcase online poker to brand new audiences on their Twitch channels.
The aim is to demonstrate the similar skills, challenges and competitive elements that poker shares with esports. In addition some members will take part in PokerStars-sponsored events such as the European Poker Tour in Barcelona later this year, test new online products such as the recently-launched Knockout Poker and compete in some of PokerStars’ biggest online tournaments.
Three of the Team Liquid streamers initially involved will be Hearthstone expert Janne ‘Savjz’ Mikkonen from Finland as well as StarCraft pair Jeffrey ‘Sjow’ Brusi from Sweden and Dario ‘TLO’ Wünsch from Germany. The players, some of whom have extensive poker experience, will play and stream poker tournaments and game formats on PokerStars.
Team Liquid member ‘Sjow’, who won the Xfinity Hearthstone Invitational in 2015, said: “I’m happy to announce that I’ll be streaming poker under the PokerStars flag. I used to play a lot before I started my eSports career and it’s a very interesting and complex game. If you want to see an old poker player relearn the game, tune in to my stream.”
‘Savjz’, who has won multiple Hearthstone events, also has some background in poker. He added: “I’m no stranger to the game. I used to play a lot in the past. PokerStars is the most respected and reliable company in that business, so I’m super excited to be sponsored by them.”
There is one poker novice among the crew, however, in the form of ‘TLO’, who recently made the Top 8 at DreamHack Leipzig. He said: “Poker and StarCraft have always been two scenes very close to each other. Both are games of incomplete information with incredibly high skill ceilings. I’m looking forward to trying myself out in poker and viewers will be able to see me learn the game as a total amateur on my Twitch channel.”
The Team Liquid pros will be joined on their streams at times by Team PokerStars professionals such as Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, who is also currently a professional Hearthstone player on Team Liquid, and formerly one of the world’s top StarCraft players. Team PokerStars Pro Online members Lex Veldhuis and Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew, who played StarCraft and Street Fighter games respectively at a competitive level before they became pro poker players will also be involved; as will the world’s biggest winning live tournament player Daniel Negreanu, who has more than $32m (£21.8m) in earnings. The Team Pros will be on hand to offer their expert strategic advice to the Team Liquid crew, and play games with the pro gaming community among other activities.
Veldhuis said of the announcement: “When I became a professional poker player I never let go of my passion for gaming. I’m an avid eSports fan, participating in Team Liquid forums and following the StarCraft and Dota 2 scenes closely. The sponsorship deal is an awesome way to show online gamers how closely related poker is and how they can apply deep-level thinking and strategy to another hugely popular game.”