Earlier this month the exciting news of a 5-year $144 million sponsorship deal from Nike towards the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) came to light. This was ground-breaking and would set the industry standard and expectations moving forward however it has since been reported that there are entities within the LPL who have expressed their different issues to the league.
Additionally, the original reports that specified a 5-year deal worth $144 million are now appearing to be incorrect. Sources that are close to the deal have mentioned that Nike is currently seeking a “conditional” agreement that will be tailored around the league’s viewership in case it was to decrease throughout the sponsorship.
With a massive deal like this being in the works, there would be problems that were almost certain to arise within the LPL. The biggest issue being the exclusivity on apparel that would be worn on gameday, as this prohibits the teams and organisations to search for their own deals with other apparel companies. This would go against the freedom teams had in the franchise model that the LPL became famous for starting. Almost every organisation in Esports, specifically professional League of Legends has their own brand style and approach, so this becoming standardise across the league could become an issue.
An organisation that will be directly affected by this is Edward Gaming as they hold a direct clothing deal with a China-based activewear company, Li-Ning. This would come into direct conflict with the Nike sponsorship, which blossomed earlier in the year when Nike featured Royal Never Give Up AD-Carry, Jian ‘Uzi’ Zihao, as a part of the “Dribble &” marketing campaign.
It can be expected that more conflicts will present themselves as more information regarding the deal comes to the surface and becomes concrete during the run-up to the Spring Split of the LPL.