Cloud 9 last night announced a new partnership, with the United States Air Force, due to come into effect immediately and include the creation of a content series featuring ‘the CS:GO team partaking in dynamic Air Force experiences’. While the move has been reported widely, the moral implications of using esports to encourage children into the armed forces has not been widely questioned, with many seeing the deal as nothing more than another sponsorship.
According to the press release put out by the team, the first meeting between C9 players and their new sponsors will take place at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, where the team will ‘receive an inside look at the world of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialists’. With the USAF also due to become a presenting sponsor of the monthly web series on the Cloud9 CS:GO team, the org’s YouTube channel is soon going to have a very different look than it might have before.
This move follows the existing partnership the Air Force has with ELEAGUE, who are due to host their Premier event this weekend from the states, and will presumably also be showing USAF adverts along the way. The deal covers a number of areas, with the C9 press release stating that the ‘…multifaceted sponsorship allows for collaboration on truly fresh content for Cloud9 fans, including two upcoming ELEAGUE activations, live event participation, and video and experiential access to situations only the Air Force can provide’.
Perhaps more interestingly, or sinisterly depending on your point of view, the The Air Force logo will also appear on the team’s jersey, starting at the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier, although we hope other USAF men go into battle with a higher chance of success than Rush and what is left of his friends do. It is unlikely the org will face any particular fan backlash about the move, as esports supporters are famously unbothered about the moral implications of what they see, provided the game is good.
C9 owner Jack Etienne was very keen to emphasise how 'cool' the new content would be, which is probably preferable to navigating the moral maze around using your esports brand to get kids to go to war. “Cloud9 is proud to create awareness of the Air Force for our amazing fan base,” said Jack Etienne, owner and CEO of Cloud9. “By developing a dynamic partnership with the Air Force, we will be able to deliver extraordinary content that will show fans a totally different side of the team. No one else in the world can put our team into a jet and let our fans watch the sheer thrill come over their faces. It’s going to be amazing.”
It seems like a few of the USAF guys quoted for the Cloud 9 press release have also not been following the scene too closely, or autimatic’s twitter or stream in recent months, as they spoke about the attributes the team has in their mind. “We are very excited to partner with Cloud9’s stellar CS:GO players, who display the same level of discipline, rigor and achievement that we value in our Airmen,” commented Maj. Ross McKnight, chief of the National Events Branch at the Air Force Recruiting Service Headquarters.
The intention of the USAF is clear though, and sets it apart from other firms that just want to get your money. “The partnership will provide an opportunity to create engaging and relevant content in the esports space and to show Cloud9 fans some of the ways in which they can make a difference in the U.S. Air Force,” said McKnight. It will be interesting to see how this move is received long term, and whether more questions are raised about the moral implications, but with C9 an American org, and support for the military famously fanatical over there, it most likely will fly under the radar.