China’s Harbin Brewery to sponsor League of Legends Pro League

Chinese beer brand Harbin Brewery has signed as the latest sponsor of China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL).

The deal is the first partnership with an alcohol brand signed by any of League of Legends’ four largest circuits, namely China, North America, Europe and South Korea.

Under the deal, Harbin will get exclusive ‘Harbin X LPL’ branding on its 500ml Harbin Ice beer packs. The co-branded range will be known as the ‘Hapi LPL Esports Can’ – ‘ha’ for Harbin and ‘pi’, the word for ‘beer’ in Mandarin.

Harbin will also produce LPL team-branded beer cans, and will work with the LPL to create joint digital content.

Leo Lin, co-chief executive of LPL operator TJ Sports, told SportBusiness Sponsorship: “The LPL is currently one of the most influential professional esports leagues in China.

“Based on all published esports data for professional Chinese esports tournaments, the LPL’s core viewership metrics – including stream viewership and watch time – are the highest.”

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The deal is Harbin’s first partnership with an esports competition, but it has previously sponsored Chinese esports teams.

In 2016, Harbin sponsored LGD Gaming when it competed at The International – the world’s biggest Dota 2 tournament.

Harbin also sponsored five Chinese esports teams – LGD Gaming, VG Gaming, Newbee, Invictus Gaming and iG Vitality – at The International in 2017.

As reported by Esports Observer, Harbin’s ‘Hapi together’ slogan was displayed on live-streaming platforms for The International.

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Harbin’s LPL deal was signed with TJ Sports, an esports joint venture formed by League of Legends owner Tencent and League of Legends publisher Riot Games. TJ Sports has full operating rights over the LPL.

Under the deal, Harbin joins a growing list of LPL partners, including Official Apparel and Footwear Partner Nike, and Official Partners such as Mercedes-Benz, Hewlett Packard, KFC, Alienware, Doritos and L’Oréal.

Harbin Brewery was founded in 1900. In 2004, US drinks conglomerate Anheuser-Busch purchased a majority stake in Harbin for a reported fee of $700m.

In 2010, Harbin sponsored the Fifa World Cup in South Africa, becoming the first Chinese beer brand to partner with the World Cup.