Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Nike's New League Of Legends Gear Sucks

Illustration for article titled Nikes New iLeague Of Legends/i Gear Sucks

Welcome, everyone, to my strange little wheelhouse, where one of my biggest passions in life (video games) is currently intersecting with a smaller one, collecting sports jerseys.

Advertisement

The news I’m pinning this on: On Sunday, Nike announced that it had signed a deal to make every single team’s competitive outfits for the next League of Legends Pro League season in China. Esports is obviously big money in China, and sportswear brands like Nike and Adidas (who recently signed Ninja as a brand ambassador) are increasingly interested in tapping into the field, which they see as an intersection between two markets they already dominate: sports and youth culture (however you choose to define that hazy term, whether it be skateboarding, rap, etc).

Advertisement

So it’s a natural fit, if you work for Nike or the pro LoL community. Nike plants a big ol’ flag in the pro League of Legends scene, and everyone involved with the game gets to trade off the legitimacy and professionalism afforded by dealing with an actual sportswear giant, rather than some tacky upstart esports clothing brand.

Here’s an overview of each team’s shirt:

Nike’s press release hilariously says the “common chevron pattern on the chest”
 is there “to symbolize motion and teamwork.”
Nike’s press release hilariously says the “common chevron pattern on the chest”
is there “to symbolize motion and teamwork.”

From an esports perspective, they’re not bad! But then, from an esports perspective, that’s a very low bar to clear. For a line of Nike jerseys, they’re as lazy and cheap as it gets.

For starters, and most obviously, they’re all the same shirt! Despite claims in the press release that each jersey will feature “bespoke designs unique to the gaming communities”, that’s limited to a few teams switching up the patterns inside the common chevron and a handful of logos printed on the collars. Otherwise it’s just one big ctrl+c, ctrl+v job across 16 teams.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Nikes New iLeague Of Legends/i Gear Sucks

In sports uniforms terms—and especially in soccer/football, which is where this particular shirt design (a variation of the 2018 Aeroswift, worn by teams like France at the World Cup) comes from—that’s borderline disrespectful. “Template” jerseys, as they’re called, are a source of mockery from some fans, who rightly see it as a lazy and unimaginative cash-in. As a result Nike does all it can to avoid this in football these days, especially with more prestigious clubs, by swapping collar and sleeve designs across different jerseys to at least create the illusion that your favourite team is worth its own unique, custom shirt.

Advertisement

So the message being sent here by Nike is basically yeah, we can see there’s money in League of Legends, but we’re going to put in the absolute bare minimum of effort, because that’s all we think it’s worth. Not only is every shirt sharing the same template in order to save on production costs, but it’s an old template at that.

On the brighter side, alongside the official team gear Nike is also releasing a “Nike x LPL apparel collection”, which is a bunch of clothing for fans like hoodies and t-shirts. Here, instead of trying to take a page out of sportswear’s books (an idea I’ve always thought was dumb for esports, since they need to be forging their own path), Nike has just shot straight at the target demographic, and the results are a lot nicer.

Advertisement

As lazy as this first batch of jerseys is, it’s only the first year’s effort in a four year deal Nike signed back in February. Hopefully they can get a little bolder with next year’s shirts.

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

smaugtheunpretentious
SmaugTheUnpretentious

I agree these are pretty bad, but I’ve seen worse. I’ll direct you to nearly any modern professional football (read: soccer) jersey. My friend was wearing a Man U jersey when I last saw him and I mistook it for a Chevy shirt because it has an enormous Chevy logo emblazoned across the front, with a comparatively tiny Man U logo at the breast pocket. He drives a Hyundai and hates Chevy. Commercial endorsement on these jerseys has gotten so stupid looking, you look like a dumbass corporate shill walking around in them, and I don’t feel like there’s a lot of ownership of that from the fandoms. I can’t remember my other friend’s team, but his jersey has a giant insurance company’s logo across the chest. That one’s OK because that guy fuckin loves insurance 🙄