Tezos, the proof-of-stake blockchain network, is expanding into the esports business just weeks after announcing an NFT collaboration with big video game publisher Ubisoft. Tezos Foundation today announced a sponsorship agreement with Team Vitality, a leading European esports organisation.
Tezos will become Vitality’s “primary partner” in the three-year arrangement, which will last through 2024, alongside other team sponsorships such as apparel brand Adidas and PC hardware maker Corsair. Both sides posted an image of a selection of Vitality players donning a new jersey with the Tezos emblem on the breast.
Tezos will also provide technical blockchain-based apps for the esports team, such as NFT collectibles, an NFT marketplace, and fan engagement opportunities, in addition to the jersey sponsorship. Vitality players will also seek to educate esports fans about blockchain technology, as have other teams through their individual crypto sponsorships.
The deal’s terms were not disclosed. Vitality described the relationship as its largest sponsorship arrangement to date and “one of the largest European partnerships in esports” in a press statement.
Team Vitality participates in the prestigious Competition of Legends European Championship (LEC) franchised league and also fields teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, and Fortnite.
The agreement between Vitality and Tezos is the latest in a string of collaborations between esports teams and leagues and organisations in the cryptocurrency industry.
FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, has perhaps created the most headlines in the space thus far, sponsoring popular team Team SoloMid (TSM) in a 10-year, $210 million naming rights deal that begins in June 2021. In August, the exchange agreed to a seven-year (unspecified) partnership with Riot Games to sponsor League of Legends esports contests.
However, in 2021, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced partnerships with Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, and BIG, as well as a collaboration with tournament operator ESL. Fnatic was sponsored by Crypto.com, and Team Secret was supported by Uniswap through a marketing grant voted on by UNI token holders.
Traditional video game publishers and developers have received flak for embracing NFTs, despite the fact that crypto industry partnerships are blooming in the esports business. The recent collaboration between Ubisoft and Tezos for in-game NFT products in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint drew criticism on social media, but the project went ahead.
GSC Game World, on the other hand, withdrew plans to integrate NFTs into the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 after user backlash, and gaming chat service Discord halted crypto wallet inclusion after a similar backlash. Square Enix and Konami, for example, have received vocally critical responses in response to announcements about NFT ambitions.