The Sound of ESL

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The Sound of ESL

  • Talent

    Andie Richarson

Sports is an inevitably noisy sector.

There are fans roaring and reacting to every goal, near misses and plenty of on-field interactions. And that’s not even considering the inter-fan rivalry.

Creating a short but easily recognisable soundscape that embodies such a world is no mean feat. That’s what we found out when working on the sonic brand identity for esports organiser and video game competitions producer ESL.

Priding itself on “Creating a world where everybody can be somebody”, the brand aims to immerse fans in new and innovative ways to access and participate in esports.

The Challenge

Knowing the collective community spirit of esports fans, regardless of which team they support, ESL required a sonic identity that was entertaining, inclusive and flexible – one that could be translated across formats, lengths and used in mixed contexts. It also had to feel pretty epic to match up with the heady in-stadium atmosphere. Challenge accepted.

 ESL’s fans span a much-coveted young age group – they’re no stranger to the digital experience. Captivating them through sound while also creating something distinguishable across touchpoints was important. Whether it was a one-second logo or a two-minute brand anthem, there needed to be something unifying between each sound.

Our goal? To create something that chimed with the in-person fan experience, catered to an online audience, which allowed for the fusion and integration of different experiences and backgrounds.

The Approach

We needed to create a number of sonic versions and adaptations that ESL could play with and roll out as necessary; something immediately exciting yet familiar, imitating the sense of attending an action-packed event. The calm before the score.

Inspired by Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey template, we identified four key moments that fans experience within any game and embedded these into the accompanying music:

  1. The Lobby – an energetic musical force to build, engage and excite audiences
  2. The Grind – an action-filled rhythm, necessary for driving the pace of the sound
  3. The Battle – a passionate melody to reflect a player’s endurance 
  4. The Victory – to mark the end of the game

After all, it’s the emotions of fans that are most infectious and imperative to a stadium’s ambience, fuelling and incentivising players to take home the trophy.

The Solution

With these clearly outlined steps in mind, we levelled the playing field and created not one, not two, but three different iterations.

The full brand anthem came in at just over two minutes long, sketching out the process of play and providing spaciousness for listeners to get lost in a simulated arena setting.
From this, we extracted a memorable sonic logo that could be used across ESL’s touchpoints which doubled up as a trailer for the longer version.

We even created a sound stamp of only 1.1 seconds long – faster than pressing ‘play’ on your controller.

Results

Under ESL’s guidance and looking closely at how they present themselves to fans, the new sonic adaptations are thought to increase the brand’s awareness, while remaining distinctive and memorable.

They live across different formats and were played at ESL’s IEM Katowice 2022 competition for the first time, where challengers from across the world competed over their share of the $1,500,000 prize pool.