Nike is continuing its esports expansion by sponsoring individual players.
The athletic apparel manufacturer has tendered a partnership with Dota 2 star Roman “RAMZES666” Kushnarev. RAMZES666 is only the second esports player to be directly sponsored by Nike.
“For me, Nike was always the №1 brand in the world, and I am very pleased that thanks to Winstrike I was introduced to the company. With Nike’s support many great athletes, like Michael Jordan and Cristiano Ronaldo, achieved incredible heights. This is a new experience for me, and I am sure that it will be interesting,” RAMZES666 said in a statement.
Nike has historically looked to work with top athletes across a wide variety of sports. In addition to legendary competitiors such as Michael Jordan and Cristiano Ronaldo, Nike has worked with golfer Tiger Woods, tennis player Serena Williams, and gymnast Simone Biles.
RAMZES666 is one of Dota 2’s most heavily credentialed players and is Russia’s highest-earning Dota 2 player in terms of prize pool winnings. Alongside his former Virtus.pro teammates Alexey “Solo” Berezin, Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko, and Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov, RAMZES666 won five Dota 2 majors over the span of two years and cemented the team as one of Dota 2’s best of all time. He is currently playing alongside some of those former Virtus.pro teammates on Just Error.
Nike has been slowly expanding its esports presence for a long while now. The company first entered into the industry in 2018 with the player sponsorship of Chinese League of Legends star Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao. In 2019, Nike’s presence in Chinese LoL expanded in a big way as it became the exclusive apparel manufacturer of the LPL. Earlier this year, Nike moved outside China by sponsoring top Korean team T1.
RAMZES666’s partnership with Nike kicked off with his appearance in a NIke Live event dedicated to the city of Moscow, meant to pitch a new line of sneakers based on the city. This brings Nike’s esports presence to a new part of the world.
RAMZES666 is currently playing with Just Error, a CIS team that includes numerous members of the 2017-2019 Virtus.pro lineup as well as Evil Geniuses star Syed “SumaiL” Hassan. He left Evil Geniuses in November 2020 after spending much of the year on the bench due to travel restrictions.