Jessica S. January 16, 2020
T1 Entertainment and Sports, the parent company behind top Korean League of Legends team T1, has announced a new partnership with Nike.
Nike and T1 revealed the news via press release, and also discussed plans to open new training facilities at T1’s headquarters in Seoul. The reveal highlighted how T1’s legendary mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok visited Nike’s headquarters in Oregon, got a behind-the-scenes tour of Nike’s Sports Research lab, and did some work with the company’s trainers and biomechanists.
The partnership seems to be more than just a simple apparel agreement, as it will include research into the relationship between esports performance and overall physical fitness.
“We’re interested in understanding and learning more about the relationship between improved physical fitness and athleticism as it relates to gaming, these athletes have unique skill sets that we believe we can help them improve through tailored training methods.” said Brant Hirst, Marketing Director at Nike Korea.
Though the announcement highlighted Faker, the partnership will include the entire T1 organization including its players competing in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Dota 2, Fortnite, and fighting games. Nike will produce uniforms, shoes, and sportswear for the team.
On Twitter, CEO Joe Marsh has alluded to additional merch, but hasn’t revealed what kind or for what teams the merch will be for. With esports becoming a bigger mainstream business, more teams are looking for partnerships like these to supply fans with the merch they want.
The arrangement with T1 continues a relatively aggressive push into esports by Nike.
In 2018, Nike signed an endorsement deal with Royal Never Give Up LoL player Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao. This was followed by Nike becoming the exclusive apparel manufacturer of the LPL, China’s top League of Legends league in 2019. Later in the year Nike became a sponsor of Furia Esports, a Brazilian organization best known for its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team.