Each month, Esports Insider recaps the biggest esports sponsorships, partnerships and brand activations from the month prior. Below is our list of the biggest sponsorship and partnership news stories from January 2024.
January saw a strong start to the year for some of esports’ largest esports leagues, with sponsorship activity from major brands including KIA, KitKat, ALDI, Crédit Agricole and more.
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French esports organisation Team Vitality renewed its partnerships with betting platform GG.BET, supermarket chain ALDI and French banking group Crédit Agricole, and gaming headphone brand JBL Quantum.
The organisation noted that all four brands had deals that were expiring at the end of 2023. Team Vitality also highlighted that all 14 of its 2023 commercial partners have been ‘retained’ for the 2024 season. Whilst renewals hadn’t been confirmed at the time, earlier this month Crédit Agricole and ALDI unveiled their support for Team Vitality’s League of Legends women’s roster, Rising Bees, to help grow the team’s appeal and audience outside its home country.
The four brands will continue to sit alongside Team Vitality’s portfolio of partners which includes the likes of Tezos, hummel, KIA, Cherry XTRFY, EVNIA, Kingston FURY, and Secretlab. Last year, Team Vitality also welcomed skin trading site Tradeit.gg and non-endemic brands such as Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s.
Game developer Blizzard Entertainment partnered with global esports tournament operator ESL FACEIT Group to run Overwatch 2’s main esports ecosystem.
The new Overwatch Champions Series (OWCS) will have open tournament circuits in EMEA and North America, as well as LAN tournaments at DreamHack events. ESL FACEIT Group will integrate Overwatch 2 into the FACEIT platform.
The first event will be at the DreamHack Dallas Major tournament in late May to June. The OWCS World Finals will then take place at DreamHack Stockholm. Both LAN events will feature the top eight performing OWCS teams from around the world
The move to let ESL FACEIT Group run Overwatch esports comes after the Overwatch League, the game’s premier franchised esports league, was shut down late last year after teams decided to exit it due to reportedly low revenue and viewership alongside high costs of operation.
Game publisher Riot Games secured a partnership with the American branch of Korean automotive maker Kia ahead of the 2024 North American League Championship Series (LCS) season. According to a release, the deal will see the brand be integrated across the entire competition with both virtual and in-person experiences.
Kia will become the first-ever sponsor to be featured in the multi-lane camera view and the brand will also have its own digital, in-game banners on the top side of Summoner’s Rift, the map used for League of Legends esports competitions. The sponsorship also includes broadcast integration such as advertisement and logo placements. Additionally, the car brand will present both the annual LCS MVP award, the LCS All-Pro Team, as well as the LCS Rookie of the Year award, celebrating the best-performing players during the season.
The European branch of South Korean car maker Kia will continue as an Official Main Partner of the League of Legends EMEA Championship (LEC) for three more years. As a result of the deal, Kia’s brand will gain visibility during LEC countdowns and breaks throughout the broadcast.
The company’s branding will also be featured across various LEC awards such as, Player of the Game, All-Pro Team and the 2024 Season MVP. Additionally, Kai will be one of the presenting partners of the trophy ceremony at the end of the 2024 LEC Season Finals. The partnership renewal continues to show Kia’s commitment to esports, as the company has sponsored the league for the past five years.
Nestlé-owned chocolate brand KitKat renewed its partnership with the League of Legends EMEA Championship (LEC), EMEA Masters and EMEA Regional Leagues (ERLs) for an additional three years. The collaboration will see KitKat remain as the trio’s main partner until 2026 and will include activations during technical pauses and champion selection.
Presence on LEC and EMEA Masters broadcasts ensures KitKat visibility in both of the largest Europe-focused LoL esports events, while the broader ERLs being included in the deal will also see KitKat appear in 13 divided national leagues.
KitKat has been a prominent sponsor of League of Legends broadcasts since first joining the LEC in 2020. Since then it expanded its reach to EMEA’s tier two ecosystem, featuring on both EMEA Masters broadcasts as well as all ERLs at certain stages.
European esports organisation GIANTX extended its partnership with Nestlé chocolate brand KitKat. As a result, KitKat will remain an official partner for GIANTX and work with the esports brand on activation and content creation. Moreover, its logo will appear on the sleeves of GIANTX’s players who compete in Spanish competitions.
The partnership originated from an ongoing collaboration between KitKat and Giants Gaming, which was first announced back in 2021. Giants Gaming merged with EXCEL ESPORTS late in 2023, creating a new company called GIANTX. As a result, KitKat will support the new brand in a similar way it did previously when it was a partner of Giants Gaming.
The partnership will be focused on one of GIANTX’s two domestic markets, Spain. According to the two brands, KitKat and GIANTX will work together on campaigns, creating new content and developing new content formats throughout 2024. The extension of the partnership will see the KitKat logo featured on the jerseys of the GIANTX players in the Superliga, Spain’s top-flight League of Legends league.
Counter-Strike circuit BLAST Premier announced a partnership with esports betting company GG.BET for 2024. As a result, GG.BET will become the exclusive betting partner of BLAST Premier’s circuit.
The partnership will see GG.BET integrated into the BLAST Premier broadcast through a range of segments that take place before and in between matches. In addition, the company’s betting odds will also appear before the start of a match.
Alongside the company’s integration into the broadcast, GG.BET and BLAST Premier will join forces to create a range of ‘exclusive content’ and giveaways for fans. Details on the content were not disclosed.
Ukrainian esports organisation Natus Vincere (NAVI) announced it has expanded its partnership with esports betting company GG.BET.
As a result, the two parties will collaborate on a range of content creation projects and activations throughout 2024. According to a release, GG.BET and NAVI will host press conferences with the organisation’s players in addition to in-person activations at events where it is competing. Both entities stated that the aim will be to create ‘more exciting content.’ Details on the content were not disclosed.
GG.BET first partnered with Natus Vincere in 2021, making the betting company one of the organisation’s long-standing partners on its portfolio. In the past three years, the two parties have hosted a CS:GO showmatch against Team Vitality while GG.BET’s logo has previously been featured on the jerseys of players.
Game publisher BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment announced the return of the Tekken World Tour for 2024. The tour will now integrate EVO Japan 2024 into its calendar, with Chipotle, Venum and Victrix by PDP joining the league as commercial partners.
The Tekken World Tour is the highest tier of competition in Tekken, a fighting game franchise created in 1994. The competition will start on April 13th during EVO Japan and BANDAI NAMCO announced that all stops of the World Tour will be in-person events.
To support the new season, BANDAI NAMCO announced three initial partners for the World Tour. American restaurant chain Chipotle will be joined by boxing apparel brand Venum and hardware brand Victrix. Alongside appearing at events and in activations, Venum will offer clothing inspired by Tekken characters Marshall Law, Paul Phoenix and Jin Kazama. Moreover, Victrix will create a series of eight special edition Tekken 8 controllers.
India-based telecommunications company Vodafone Idea announced a partnership with European esports organisation Team Vitality to help grow the country’s esports scene. The partnership includes content creation, collaboration on events and fan activations. The two brands also noted that they aim to “launch gaming contests and events” in the future.
This partnership intensifies the efforts of both parties, with Team Vitality expanding its presence in India and Vodafone Idea doubling down on its support of esports. Vodafone Idea is a major player in the mobile gaming market in the country and is known for its Vi Games offerings on its official app. The company has hosted tournaments in mobile games such as Free Fire and Clash Royale before.
Team Vitality has been present on the Indian esports scene since 2021, despite being mostly known for its EU-based operations.
North American esports and lifestyle organisation FaZe Clan announced a partnership with cryptocurrency casino and trading platform Rollbit. The ‘multi-million dollar’ deal will see Rollbit sponsor FaZe’s Counter-Strike 2 team as a global partner. The two companies claimed the deal constituted “one of the largest sponsorship deals in the history of esports.”
Rollbit is a crypto casino and cryptocurrency trading platform launched in 2020 on the Ethereum blockchain. The company has since grown to have a global presence in the crypto casino market, and recently signed a large-scale partnership with Italian football club SSC Napoli, the reigning champions of Serie A.
Faze Clan’s Rollbit partnership will be focused exclusively outside of the United States. This is possibly because Rollbit does not appear to be licensed to operate in the US, nor in many other Western markets.
Kansas City-based esports organisation KC Pioneers expanded its partnership with the US Army National Guard. As a result of the expansion, the two parties will collaborate to host a 12-event esports circuit known as the Stateline Showdown Series.
The Stateline Showdown Series will take place throughout 2024 at several locations across the Midwest region of the United States. According to a release, event locations include the NASCAR race at Kansas City Speedway and the LEVELUP Arena gaming facility.
KC Pioneers first partnered with the Army National Guard in June 2023. The initial collaboration saw them host six events aiming to unite communities and provide a platform where amateur players could showcase their skills. In addition, the event gave players opportunities to explore careers within the National Guard.
Esports cryptocurrency betting platform Thunderpick announced a partnership with women-focused esports community platform the*gameHERs (Gamehers).
Thunderpick is a cryptocurrency betting platform that has run its own tournament series and partnered with esports teams in the past. Thunderpick and the*gameHERs said they would work together on a wide range of activations and tournaments, including an event during the SuperBowl week, a weekly stream campaign and a Pro-Am tournament, among others.