Always at the forefront of innovation, Champion is one of the first major sports apparel brands to join the world of Esports – before competitors Nike, Adidas, Puma and Reebok. Starting in 2018, Champion began several exclusive partnerships with Team Dignitas, PlayVS, the Robert Morris University Esports team and The Renegades.
But what is Esports?
Short for “electronic sports,” Esports is defined as the world of competition between teams that play multiplayer video games for spectators. Esports teams are usually comprised of professional video game players, although it also describes non-professional players that compete at the high school or college level.
Similar to how a professional athlete like LeBron James plays basketball for a living, professional Esports players’ careers consist of traveling and competing in gaming tournaments with winning prize pools often in the millions. The League of Legends 2016 World Championship, for example, attracted over 43 million online viewers and had a grand prize pool of over 6 million dollars.
Games played by Esports teams generally fall into one of the following categories:
- Strategy/MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games
League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, DOTA 2
- Fighting games
Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros, Dragonball Fighter Z
- Survival/Battle Royale games
PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds), Fortnite
- Shooter games
Overwatch, CS:GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)
- Sports games
Rocket League, NBA2K, FIFA
Champion Esports Partnerships
In 2018, Champion entered the Esports world with their partnership with Team Dignitas, becoming their official provider of competitive jerseys, casual wear and athletic wear in September.
“The opportunity to partner with the apparel company that has pioneered one of the most essential retail pieces in any Esports player and fan’s wardrobe — the hoodie — is truly appropriate,” Michael Prindiville, Team Dignitas CEO, said. “Champion’s recent reemergence into pop culture mirrors Team Dignitas’ incredible renaissance in fan popularity and dominance in competition.”
In October, Champion’s partnership with PlayVS, a high school-focused Esports startup, provided the first official state-level high school Esports league created by the NFHS, Season Zero, with official team jerseys.
“Champion is ecstatic to join PlayVS… as the official team apparel partner – a first for Esports in the high school realm,” Tyler Lewison, General Manager of Champion Teamwear, said. “The fact that the NFHS was forward thinking in partnering with PlayVS to bring gaming to high schools across the country was a driving factor to all work together. Champion is proud to be a part of this monumental experience which not only demonstrates the popularity and rapid growth of gaming but the necessity for implementing this form of competition in schools.”
Then in November, Champion partnered with the Robert Morris University’s Esports team, officially entering the world of collegiate Esports.
“As an innovator in athletic apparel, Champion is thrilled to partner with the Robert Morris University Esports program – one of the first collegiate programs in the nation,” Lewison said. “For 100 years, Champion has helped break barriers within sports and we are excited to be part of establishing Esports in the collegiate realm. This has been a phenomenal experience.”
In 2019, Champion has continued their venture into the world of Esports, forming a new partnership with Esports team The Renegades as their official apparel provider.
Getting your school involved in Esports
Esports has the potential to be a lucrative career – in fact, some universities have begun treating Esports competitors as they might treat any other athletic recruit and offering scholarships to play on university Esports teams.
“Esports is reaching a crucial milestone in terms of overcoming stigma associated with being a video gamer,” Michael Wisnios, Director of Robert Morris University Esports, said. “Champion has recognized this moment and our players are excited to be continuing their 100-year legacy of breaking barriers in the world of athletics.”
Besides the potential for college scholarships, there are plenty of reasons to start up an Esports team at the high school level, such as increased participation and character development. Not only do Esports often engage students who might not participate in school athletics or activities, it also provides a way for students to build self-esteem, learn sportsmanship and develop discipline through practice and gameplay – even giving some students the incentive to keep their grades up to compete on teams.
For years, Champion Teamwear has been providing apparel for athletes and teams across the nation – now including Esports teams. Whether your Esports team is brand new or just looking to change up their look, Champion Teamwear has the apparel your Esports team needs.
For more info on how to start an Esports team at your school, check out the NFHS Esports page.