I have been sitting on an idea for a couple years now. I'm going to put my idea on "paper" now since I think we are nearing a time someone else will implement it. It is also looking like I will not be implementing it baring a nice run at the powerball lottery.
With there being 2-3 major tournaments in the USA, and dozens of lesser GT's, I think we are only months away from seeing professional sponsorships in 40k tournaments. I'll list the reasons I believe it will happen this year if not early next year.
We are seeing bigger companies around the hobby that are not Games Workshop. For years GW supplied everything for the hobby, and most people bought it. From paint, to carrying cases, to the tournaments themselves (old GT circuit), GW ran it, made it, or resold it. Times have changed with companies like Galeforce 9, Battlefoam, and Independent GT's. I saw the banners at Adepticon advertising several companies and even mascots in costumes. I have noticed several other forms of corporate sponsorship in podcasts. Several podcasts have commercials from many different companies.
Other changes in the hobby are making sponsorship a reality. For sponsorships to be profitable they have to bring customers to companies. With major tournaments like Adepticon, Nova Open, and Wargames Con, we have major events with lots of coverage and people attending. All this attention is the perfect area to place your ad. What better billboard than having top players sponsored by your company. Everybody loves a winner and what better way to get your name out there than having it on a T-shirt of the winner!
So we have major events, and Internet coverage. We have live podcasts, and dozens of blogs writing coverage stories. We now have top players. Several names have filtered to the top tables with regularity. We have a rankings system that could take off in popularity if it meant sponsorship. I think back to that top table at Adepticon. I was watching it on the IC broadcast. There was over 200 other people watching it, and I thought "wow what an opportunity to get your message out about your company". Not only on the podcast, but shots of the winners and interviews and dead time between matches.
With travel costs and entry fees these GTs can be expensive. But what if a company paid for your 2 night stay and your entry fee? You would get an awesome opportunity to play for free or close to it. The company would get $300-$400 worth of advertising per event. It could be as simple as a contract to wear some logo apparel all weekend. Of coarse companies would want players with a high chance of making it to the top tables to get the best exposure, ie biggest bang for their buck.
Currently game stores and companies are donating prize support for events for exposure, so I think it is only a matter of time before they add or shift those dollars to player sponsorship. Think of what it did for this sport......
I'm for anything that grows the hobby. The more money put into it, the better. Hotels love our hobby. We bring consistent numbers and fill rooms for a weekend. Other companies could benefit too if they are willing to be leaders and look at how this could benefit them.
This hobby is constantly changing. I don't think it will be long before you start seeing the above picture. I think this will be a good thing. I think it would drive up attendance numbers as more people could afford to travel to events farther away. This could be good for companies too, as they are looked at being trend setters or the go to company for their products. Only the future will tell, and that's my 2 cents.