You And Your Favorite Esports Players Will Soon Be Decked Out in Nike And Champion Esports Apparel

As esports approaches the billion-dollar threshold with a global audience of nearly 350 million viewers, it’s no wonder companies across industries are doing what it takes to strike deals for a piece of the action. Companies want in on the esports craze–and apparel brands are at the top of the list fighting for a spot to become official sponsors or merchandisers of esport teams across the country and be on the leading edge of the latest fashion trend.

Traditional sports apparel brands like Nike and Champion are getting in line behind esports-focused apparel brands We Are Nations and esports organization 100 Thieves. Everyone from the top competitive gamers to their fans streaming the action at home will soon be decked out in the most stylish gamer garb.

Champion is the first traditional athletic apparel brand to venture into the unchartered waters of esports, and after only a few short months, the company announced it would be the official provider of apparel for Chicago’s Robert Morris University esports team, The Eagles. RMU is known in the esports industry for being pioneers in creating varsity level esports programs at universities nationwide.

Before the deal with RMU, Champion was a pioneer in its own right and signed a deal with Team Dignitas – an esports organization owned by the Philadelphia 76ers. Champion became the official provider of team jerseys, athletic wear and casual wear for Team Dignitas. Team Dignitas team members now bear the Champion logo on their jerseys in every match. And fans can get their hands on similar styles and other merchandise at the Team Dignitas online team store.

Nike, the sports apparel brand known for team uniforms and sponsoring the greatest traditional sports athletes, followed Champion’s lead. Nike officially sponsored Chinese League of Legends player Jian “Uzi” Zihao of the Royal Never Give Up esports team in October. Zihao is Nike’s first ever publicly sponsored and endorsed esports player. Along with the endorsement deal, Uzi also appears alongside LeBron James in the marketing campaign “Dribble &” for James’ documentary Shut Up And Dribble.

Players with endorsement deals from companies like Nike have a good track record of a career on and off the playing field. Having Uzi appear in a global campaign next to one of the most recognizable and successful athletes in the world further legitimizes esports. It gives the industry opportunity to compete for sponsorship deals on the same level as traditional sports.

Coming off the success of its first foray into esports, Nike also is currently negotiating an apparel sponsorship deal with Tencent and China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL). LPL is the first League of Legends competition to introduce a franchise-style system that is similar to a traditional sports league. LPL has 14 teams that compete within the organization. This multi-million dollar deal requires all LPL teams – including players, coaches, and managers – to wear branded Nike gear on game days.

Nike isn’t the only apparel company working to lock in deals as official merchandise sponsors. We Are Nations is an esports ecommerce company that designs, sells and distributes branded apparel such as official team jerseys. The esports apparel company has been the merchandise provider for G2 Esports, NASR Esports, Florida Mayhem, Made In Brazil, FACEIT and Misfits. Just announced in November, Riot Games teams up with We Are Nations for the 2019 North American League of Legends Championship Series. We Are Nations will be the official apparel sponsor for all ten teams in the league and sell merchandise online and offline.

The NA LCS and We Are Nations deals add competition to brands like 100 Thieves, which already supplies the League of Legends team with sponsored official jerseys and merchandise. 100 Thieves has been so successful in curating cool clothing for esports fans that even rapper Drake took note and invested in the company this fall. With each collection drop, the e-commerce website full of t-shirts and sweatshirts with street-style aesthetic sells out in seconds. It just goes to show esports athletes are quickly becoming “athlete-influencers” and street-style mavens, just like traditional sports athletes.

Traditional sports teams don the logos of the biggest sports apparel brands while traditional sports fans proudly wear the jerseys of their favorite teams and players. Brand logos are thrust in front of the eyes of millions of sports fans, which boosts the visibility and ultimately, the success of the brand. And with esports viewership quickly out-pacing viewership of traditional sports, including American football, brands are eager to get in on the action and continue to find ways to score with the booming esports fan-base.