Five Notable Brand Collaborations in Esports
The global esports industry has expanded quite rapidly in the last decade. According to , in 2021, the global esports market was valued at just over 1.08 billion USD, a 50 percent increase compared to 2020. As the market expanded, several brands and companies started striking up collaborations and sponsorship deals with publishers, esports teams, tournament organizers, and star streamers. Right from Premier League football clubs like Wolves and Schalke, artists like BLACKPINK and even automobile giants like BMW, Tesla, and Mercedes-Benz have all had collaborations in esports or gaming in some capacity. Here is a list of some of the most lucrative and notable brand partnerships in esports till date.
ESL Dota - Mercedes Benz
The German automotive brand, Mercedes Benz began its relationship with the esports world when it became the partner for ESL in 2017. The cooperation included tournament sponsorships across different ESL events including ESL One Hamburg 2017, a Major Dota 2 tournament and a prize pool of $1,000,000 USD. The organization also started awarding the MVP player with a Mercedes-Benz car. In October 2018, the automobile company renewed the partnership and continued their MVP award tradition with . The collab also ended up spawning a series of .
TSM - FTX
During this year’s LCS Summer Split, TSM announced a 10-year sponsorship deal worth $210 million USD with cryptocurrency exchange FTX. TSM was rebranded as TSM FTX but could not advertise their new sponsor for either League of Legends or Valorant due to pre-existing rules prohibiting advertising with crypto sponsors. However, just months later, Riot decided to let . FTX would be contributing to LCS segments and graphics. The financial amount of the partnership has not yet been disclosed.
LCS - Bud Light
In January 2020, Bud Light - an American light beer company, joined North America’s biggest League of Legends tournaments as a partner and as the “official beer of the league.” As part of a multi-year deal, the brand presented the “Ace Moment” game segment. Team Liquid has announced that Bud Light has partnered with the organization as the official beer of its League of Legends team. Previously, the brand had announced its sponsorship of the Overwatch League in 2019, which included a title sponsorship of the Bud Light Homestand Weekend – Dallas. The beer brand is also a partner of the NBA 2K League.
Ninja - Adidas
Sports brand Adidas signed Fortnite streamer, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins to become an Adidas original partner on 31st Dec 2019. The collaboration resulted in a limited-edition sneakers release, which according to the streamer were completely sold out within 40 minutes of the launch. The Time-In Nite Joggers were originally priced at $150 USD before being sold upwards of $200 USD on online markets like StockX.
Adidas also reunited with Ninja in August 2020 for another sneaker collaboration of the much toned down Ninja x adidas Superstar and a “EMBRACE THE GRIND” clothing collection in November of the same year.
Fnatic - Gucci
European esports juggernaut, Fnatic teamed up with luxury fashion brand Gucci to release a limited-edition watch priced at $1,620 USD and exclusively sold through Gucci’s webstore. Players from Fnatic’s League of Legends division consisting of Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov , Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek, Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau, and Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek were featured in a commercial for the watch.