Nike sponsors Korean League of Legends team SKT T1
Last Thursday Nike announced an expansive partnership with T1 Entertainment & Sports, which runs several esports teams, including the overwhelmingly successful League of Legends Champions Korea team. While Nike already enjoyed an exclusive apparel deal with T1, the new partnership will encompass more than just clothing. Indeed, Nike is looking to expand its involvement in the esports space, not unlike what it has done in other sports around the world. Previously, the Oregon-based sportswear company made waves sponsoring the League of Legends Pro League competition in China, but this is the first time it has partnered with a specific team. Of course, the new deal now means Nike has a sizeable role in the esports worlds of both China and Korea.
For the new arrangement, Nike plans on “empowering T1 athletes by providing cutting-edge training facilities at T1 Headquarters in Seoul, which is expected to open later this year” according to a press release. The footwear company also plans on leveraging its already existing sports research and training facilities to enhance the “athletic capabilities” of T1’s players. In addition to training and research, all T1 athletes will wear Nike-designed uniforms, and sport the brand’s shoes and other sportswear during competition.
The innovative partnership may have something to do with top T1 athlete Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, who visited Nike headquarters in Oregon back in 2019 for a tour of the company’s Nike Sports Research Lab. Marketing Director at Nike Korea said of the visit, “We’re interested in understanding and learning more about the relationship between improved physical fitness and athleticism as it relates to gaming. These athletes have unique skill sets that we believe we can help them improve through tailored training methods.”
Given that esports athletes, especially those who play League of Legends, enjoy abbreviated careers of only 1-2 years on average, there will also be a focus on extending players’ livelihoods. CEO of T1 Joe Marsh reiterated this point in the release, stating that they are “thrilled to bring innovation to the next level through Nike’s premier training programs and performance wear that will help maximize our players’ potential and strengthen the longevity of their careers.”
After the new sponsorship announcement, Faker seemed pleased with the new arrangement. “I can’t wait to see how Nike’s training and performance expertise will transform our team’s skills and the entire T1 organization,” said the League of Legends pro. “It’s great to see Nike supporting esports and we are excited to represent the Swoosh in competition.”