Nike is one of the most famous and recognizable brands in the world. For decades, they have released lines of shoes and other apparel carrying the name of superstars from Michael Jordan to Neymar. They are one of the biggest sponsors of professional sports teams globally. They supply jerseys and other merchandise to Manchester City, FC Barcelona, the National Basketball Association, and more. Now, Nike is the newest League of Legends sponsor.
The clothing giant is looking to make a foray into the esports industry by signing a deal with the League of Legends Pro League, the top online competition in China. With this partnership, Nike will become the official apparel provider for the league. Starting with the 2019 Mid-Season Invitational in May, League fans can buy LPL-themed clothing at Nike stores.
Then, at the 2019 World Championship finals in Paris at the end of the year, Nike and the LPL will unveil the official jerseys for their teams. The LPL also announced on Twitter that Nike will be helping improve the physical fitness and stamina of league competitors by designing training programs for them.
Leo Lin, co-CEO of LPL operator TJ Sports, a joint venture of Tencent and Riot Games, said, “Our unprecedented partnership with Nike will enable LPL teams and players to continue to shine on the world stage. E-sports is a digital sport, and collaboration with Nike will push it to new heights.”
League of Legends’ Sponsors
This certainly looks like a strong business decision for both Riot/Tencent and Nike. Nike can stake its claim as the biggest sportswear brand in this growing industry while its competitors lag behind. The LPL ads another top brand to its lineup of sponsors, elevating the league’s legitimacy and brand value to new heights.
Nike is the latest big brand to recognize the huge market that esports offers. But they aren’t League of Legends’ first major sponsor.
In September 2018, Riot Games announced that Mastercard had become the first global sponsor for League of Legends. Mastercard is League’s “exclusive global payment services partner” for competitions around the world. As part of the sponsorship deal, Mastercard will offer exclusive League-themed products and opportunities to win tickets to events.
Their sponsorship will focus on the biggest events on LoL’s calendar: the Mid-Season Invitational, the All-Star competition, and the World Championship.
Riot Games kicked off 2019 by announcing that Dell’s Alienware gaming PC division would sponsor League’s global events. The partnership was revealed at CES 2019, the Las Vegas technology exposition.
Early last year, shoemaker K-Swiss inked a deal with North American gaming group the Immortals. They debuted custom sneakers for the club, which fields teams in esports like Dota 2 and Overwatch.