Team Identification in Esports: The Benefits of Localizing an Esports Team

Yongjin Hwang
Wil Fisackerly
and Bob Heere

Associating esports teams with a particular city has gained significant attention, with the assumption that esports teams receive benefits from the local fanbase as traditional sports teams take advantage of the local community. The researchers examined whether team identification was important in esports as it is in traditional sports and tested if local and nonlocal fans showed different levels of team identification after localization. The results of path analyses revealed that team identification had a positive impact on team loyalty and consumer behavior. Additionally, team loyalty mediated the positive impacts of team identification, and local residency was a significant moderator, strengthening the effects of team identification. Furthermore, a mixed-model ANCOVA showed that local fans’ team identification was higher after localization but no changes occurred in nonlocal fans’ team identification. The findings provide empirical evidence that localizing in esports could be beneficial yet occurs without the expected tradeoffs of estranging nonlocal fans.