When you think of brand sponsorships like Nike, Puma, Adidas, or Reebok, most of the time these brands usually sponsor your more “traditional” athletes, such as football players, tennis players, boxers, basketball players, and so on. However it seems that eSports is becoming too big to ignore, and Nike is getting on board by signing its first eSports athlete.
According to a report from SportsPro (via IGN), Nike has signed League of Legends player Jian Zihao, better known as Uzi, where he will be working with basketball legend LeBron James in the “Dribble &” campaign which will see the creation of new shirts. Zihao will be the first eSports athlete that Nike has signed, although Nike is not the first company to do so as IGN points out that previously Champion had partnered with eSports Team Dignitas where they provided the team’s official uniforms.
Like we said, eSports is on the rise with many tournaments and championships offering up millions in prize money. It has also become big enough where there are universities offering scholarships to students who are proficient in certain games. We are also seeing a shift in the mentality of parents, where there are some who recognize eSports as a potential career path for their children and are actually hiring “tutors” to help them. More recently the Olympic Committee has also acknowledged eSports as a sporting activity, where it is possible that one day we might see eSports as part of the Olympic games.