Nike is finally entering esports after signing a four-year deal with the League of Legends (LoL) Pro League (LPL) to supply apparel and footwear for all teams competing in the league starting this year.
The LPL is China’s own professional league for LoL, with 16 competing teams as well as one of the biggest followings in all of esports. The LPL team Invictus Gaming notably won the LoL World Championship last year.
Aside from supplying players in the LPL, Nike will also be selling its products at live tournaments.
The athletic footwear giant is set to become the LPL’s official exclusive clothing and footwear partner in four years. The other financial terms of Nike’s deal with the LPL have not been disclosed however.
“As China becomes a new e-sports cultural center, Nike is pleased to support the next generation of athletes and establish a long-term cooperative relationship with e-sports to contribute to the future development of sports ecology,” said Nike in a statement.
While this will be Nike’s first formal esports sponsorship, the company previously featured one of the stars of the LPL, Jian “Uzi” Zihao of Royal Never Give Up, in a marketing campaign.
The company said that it also plans on working with esports athletes to custom-design training programs to help them improve in their craft.
“Since its inception, Nike has always believed that in all sports, a strong body and will will make athletes better,” Nike added.
Other footwear companies have beaten Nike to the punch however, as rivals Adidas and Puma have already established a presence in the esports industry.
With that said, the presence of a company as prestigious as Nike in the esports fold is a welcome boon for the industry. According to the research firm Newzoo, the global esports industry is set to exceed $1 billion in value this year.