Jian “Uzi” Zihao, a League of Legends player for Chinese organisation Royal Never Give Up, has signed an endorsement deal with American sportswear and apparel giant Nike.
Uzi will appear alongside Chinese actor Bai Jingting and basketballer LeBron James in the “Dribble &” campaign for James’ “Shut Up and Dribble” docuseries.
Further details of the campaign – including financial information – is currently unclear. The ad campaign was posted on Weibo explaining how LeBron James helped to motivate Uzi become the best player he can be.
This is the first instance of an individual from within the esports industry has signed an endorsement deal with Nike. Uzi is, without a doubt, one of the more popular players in esports at the moment – with the 2018 League of Legends World Championship being dubbed as his tournament to lose.
Royal Never Give Up itself has been entering non-endemic partnerships in recent times. In June of this year, the LPL team announced a one-year sponsorship with German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. More recently, in September, the organisation was also on the receiving end of a one-year sponsorship from KFC.
Esports Insider says: It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves and say this deal will open the floodgates for esports personalities and competitors in mainstream media, but it could well not be that way at all. Uzi is a force among a young Chinese audience and it’s clear that this ad campaign is targeted at that demographic, so it could be clever advertising more than acceptance for competitive video gaming.