This post has been updated.
G2 Esports, one of the world’s leading esports brands, has announced a major new partnership with global sportswear powerhouse Adidas–an agreement that could not only revolutionize G2’s “entertainment empire,” but also help push esports closer to acceptance as performance sports in their own right.
The multi-year deal–which was formally announced at 9:00AM ET through a global Zoom press conference with international media, including Forbes–will see Adidas, Forbes’ 11th best employer in the world last October, enter a two-year deal to become the major sports apparel provider to G2, the eighth most valuable esports company in 2020.
After a brief introduction from G2 CEO and League of Legends superstar Carlos ‘ocelote’ Rodriguez, an incredibly polished video preview of the partnership was played out, featuring G2’s textbook confidence and sense of humor, as well as Rodriguez himself. To coincide with the official conference announcement, G2 dropped the trailer across its social channels to its millions of followers.
Initially, Adidas will manufacture the esports team’s jerseys for the 2021 season. This new “G2 x adidas” shirt will offer new and unique features to the team, combining the brand’s AEROREADY technology with an all-new design for upcoming tournaments.
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In the coming months–and to take a greater grip of a rapidly-developing esports apparel market, which David Beckham’s all-new Guild Esports also entered last November–Adidas will also develop and create a lifestyle apparel collaboration for G2, though details about this range are yet to be revealed.
“Ever since I was young, Adidas has always been part of my life, as well as culture–across music, arts and sports,” Rodriguez told journalists. “They combine performance with artistic beauty and design. But it’s not just focused on the sports market; the collaborations they do with people like Pharrell [Williams] are some cool s***, and we really want to be part of that too.”
G2 Esports was founded in 2015 by Rodriguez and entrepreneur Jens Hilgers. During these last five years, it has amassed no fewer than 25 million registered supporters and is now valued at $175 million; it currently makes 80% of its revenue from esports, with a franchise team in LoL and non-franchise squads playing the likes of CS:GO, Fortnite, and Hearthstone.
This partnership with Adidas will undoubtedly improve G2’s non-competition income, but the German sportswear brand isn’t its first big-name sponsor. Over the last five years, the team’s roster of partners has grown to include more predictable patrons like Twitch, Pringles and Domino’s, as well as much more prestigious companies like BMW and Mastercard.
In his initial comments, Rodriguez said it was a “landmark day in G2 history” and “a real game-changer for us and the wider esports industry,” adding: “As a lifelong gamer and now proud team owner, this partnership is truly a watershed moment and a childhood dream of mine.”
During the conference, Björn Jäger, vice president of brand at Adidas Central Europe, was keen to stress the deal was a brand partnership and not a simple kit supply deal, as his company sees incredible potential for its brand to tap into a youth-dominated and burgeoning esports market.
He said: “With this partnership, we continue being a part of the growing gaming culture and are excited to tap into G2’s creativity and experience within this area. As a Berlin-based brand with global relevance, G2 will help us drive brand presence not only in our home market but also reach global gaming communities.”
At the moment, G2 Esports offers an extensive, brand-free collection of clothing, and its range of jerseys only differ based on game-related sponsors. For example, Valorant players are backed by Aimlab, while BMW provides its logo for Rocket League, Fortnite, and League of Legends teams.
While it’s certainly its most high-profile step into the market, the G2 deal is not Adidas’ first foray into esports. Back in November, it partnered with French squad Team Vitality to customize its sporty AM4 sneakers to create the AMT VIT.01.
Naturally, it led to those predictable, tiresome comments about how sportswear shouldn’t be designed for those whose sport requires them to sit down, but this next step in “esportswear” will hopefully help the industry take another step forward towards acceptance–and help talented players get the credit they deserve.
Update (January 14, 9:30AM ET) —
The article has been updated to reflect further news and quotes as revealed during the G2 and Adidas press conference.