US-based financial technology global giant Mastercard has forayed into esports sponsorship after striking a deal with Riot Games, makers of widely successful League of Legends game.
The one-of-a-kind multi-year deal will see Mastercard become the first global sponsor for League of Legends esports, one of the largest esports leagues in the world. The company will also serve as the exclusive global payment services partner for League of Legends events.
The company has said that the deal signifies its support to the esports community and a bid to further diversify its world-class sports and entertainment portfolio.
This is the first ever esports sponsorship deal for Mastercard. For more than two decades, the company has been sponsoring some of the major global sports events and leagues including Major League Baseball (MLB), PGA Tour, The Open, Australian Open, French Open, Rugby World Cup and UEFA Champions League, among others.
The Mastercard deal focuses on three annual global tournaments – the Mid-Season Invitational, the All-Star Event, and the World Championship – where it will curate unforgettable Priceless experiences and offers across onsite event activations, priceless.com and through other various promotions to bring fans closer to their passion and everything they love about League of Legends events.
The first live-event activation will take place at the League of Legends World Championship this fall in South Korea, and the first experiences available on Priceless.com will include an Opening ceremony rehearsal viewing and a behind the scenes tour; Opportunity to watch a game with a League of Legends pro player from VIP seats; and, Test the gaming PCs the pros will compete on during the World Championship final.
In addition, Mastercard will work with its banking partners to offer unique League of Legends co-branded products in select markets, starting in 2019.
Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, Mastercard, said, “Esports is a phenomenon that continues to grow in popularity, with fans that can rival those at any major sporting event in their enthusiasm and energy.”
“Our Priceless platform is built around connecting with people through their passions. We are excited about the experiences and benefits we can bring to the world’s largest esport – both in-game and to the millions of League of Legends fans that watch and attend the tournaments each year.”
Naz Aletaha, head of esports partnerships at Riot Games, said, “We’re thrilled to team up with Mastercard on this groundbreaking partnership that will provide meaningful and long-term value to our fans.”
“Mastercard is among the first of world-class brands to take such a big step into esports at the global level, and we’re proud to have them support League of Legends esports events alongside their other premier sports and entertainment sponsorships.”
Jarred Kennedy, co-head of esports at Riot Games, said, “We’ve long been impressed with Mastercard and their fan-focused approach to partnerships. Our community has made League of Legends the biggest esport in the world, and we’re excited to work with Mastercard to bring them new and innovative experiences for years to come.”
League of Legends is a global iconic esports spectacle with 14 professional esports leagues, 113 professional teams, and over 850 salaried athletes worldwide, operated by Riot Games. League of Legends esports games are broadcast live to millions of fans in 18 different languages across the globe, with viewership of the regular season averaging 90 million hours-watched live, week-over-week worldwide.