Mastercard wants in on esports, and it’s going in big.
The company today announced a new partnership with the Riot Games’ League of Legends, which is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) esport currently. A recent tournament, the Mid-Season Invitational, saw close to 20 million players watching online streams, and the game itself features an estimated player base of around 100 million gamers.
The deal will see Mastercard become the game’s exclusive payment service partner. while also offer fan experiences through its Priceless site, where fans would be able to attend behind the scenes tours or watch with a pro player from VIP seats.
These experiences will be available at three major annual League of Legends events — the Mid-Season International, the All-Star event and the World Championship, with the first experience taking place as early as next month in South Korea for the World Championship.
“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,” said Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer, in a press statement.
The Mastercard League of Legends deal is likely the first of its kind, though rival Visa already has sponsorship deals with esports teams and has ties to the Olympics and the Fifa World Cup.