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Nike debuts as first apparel partner of China’s League of Legends Pro League

The Greater China arm of US sportswear brand Nike has signed a historic deal as the first apparel partner of the League of Legends Pro League (LPL).

Under the four-year deal, Nike will become the league’s Official and Exclusive Apparel and Footwear Partner through 2022.

Nike will design, produce and distribute official jerseys and footwear to all 16 teams in the league, and will develop co-branded lifestyle apparel and footwear for League of Legends esports fans.

Additionally, Nike will provide all-new team uniforms ahead of the 2019 World Championships for LPL teams that qualify for the competition.

Nike will also leverage its expertise in sports science research to explore new ways to serve esports athletes through customised physical training programmes.

Eric Wei, vice-president of category marketing at Nike in Greater China, said: “Esports athletes share the same determination and competitive spirit as all athletes.

“They spend their lives preparing for intense competition, working relentlessly to improve their reflexes, coordination, vision, mentality and teamwork.

“We are very excited to support LPL teams and players with ground-breaking esports game-day gear and training programmes that will help unleash their full potential.”

The LPL is the professional League of Legends league of mainland China. It is managed and operated by TJ Sports, a joint venture between Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent and US game publisher Riot Games.

Tencent owns the Pro League, while Riot Games is the publisher of League of Legends. Riot Games is owned by Tencent, which in 2011 acquired a 93-per-cent stake in the company for a reported fee of $400m.

According to esports market research firm Newzoo, League of Legends was the most popular PC game in 2017-18, based on the number of unique players logging in each month.

League of Legends is free-to-play, but generates substantial revenue through in-game purchases known as microtransactions.

In 2017, a report from Nielsen’s specialist esports division, SuperData Research, found that Riot Games generated $2.1bn (1.8bn) in revenue from League of Legends, making it by far the world’s highest-grossing PC game.