Riot Games Preparing For "Biggest" Sponsorship Deal With Mastercard
Riot Games and Mastercard are preparing to announce a major global sponsorship centered around "League of Legends" esports, sources said, with one calling it the "biggest deal Riot has ever done." Few details are known, but Mastercard will first appear as a sponsor at the LoL World Championships set for Oct. 1-Nov. 3 in South Korea. A deal has been in the works for nearly a year, sources said. Riot declined comment; a rep for Mastercard did not return a message seeking comment. Mastercard’s bet on the world’s largest esports property will be celebrated throughout the nascent competitive video gaming industry, experts said, because it could convince other non-endemic brands to commit beyond the experimental, limited sponsorships that dominate esports today. “That’s good news for everyone, not just Riot,” said Catalyst Sports & Media Exec VP/Esports Avi Bhuiyan, who had no advance knowledge of the deal. “If you’re another payment processor, or another brand thinking about esports, seeing someone at the caliber of Mastercard not testing, or learning, but really doing a global partnership -- you’re even less out on a limb than you were before.” For Mastercard, it gives the credit card brand a global property at a time when Visa has the Olympics and FIFA World Cup rights. Also, LoL gives Mastercard a path to younger fans who might be more likely to consider startups or other new entrants to the payment business. The deal also could help Riot push back against complaints from owners in the North American League of Legends Championship Series that it has been too slow to monetize the game, which still has the most viewers despite the revenue-generating success of Activision Blizzard’s startup Overwatch League.
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