Verizon is announcing this week that it is significantly expanding its sponsorship presence with Riot Games, gaining additional inventory that will see its spending with the video game maker climb well into eight figures.
Terms of the pact are not being revealed, but Verizon will activate across multiple games and events. The telecommunications giant becomes the official 5G wireless and network service partner for both League of Legends and Riot’s new first-person shooter game, Valorant, which debuted last year and is now building out a global esports structure around it.
Verizon entered the League of Legends space last year when it started sponsoring the LCS North American series in a three-year deal, plus a Wild Rift mobile event. The new deal now encompasses North American rights to major global events. With League of Legends, those include the Mid-Season Invitational, World Championship and All-Star Event; with Valorant, it’s the Valorant Champions Tour and Valorant North America Challengers.
As part of this week’s announcement, Riot is committing to holding the Mid-Season Invitational and a Valorant Champions Tour event in Reykjavik, Iceland, in May, as it attempts to return to hosting in-person events when possible. Last year’s World Championship was held before a limited-capacity crowd in China.
“There’s a lot of commonality between the two companies: Innovation and technology are at the heart of both companies,” said Naz Aletaha, head of global esports partnerships and business development for Riot Games. “You look at their overall roster of sports sponsorships and esports … it’s a very natural next step, especially because esports is 100% operated on technology.”
Aletaha said the sides are just now getting to work on specific activation plans.
Verizon has been increasing its presence in gaming in the last couple years as it also has a partnership in esports with the Dignitas organization, which is owned by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.
Having a marketing partner sign up for assets across multiple Riot Games titles is an important development for the Los Angeles-based publisher as it starts to focus on new games. Its first 10 years as a company, starting in 2009, were only focused on League of Legends, which is the world’s most-watched esport.
“We really look for those best-in-class brands who share our vision and want to do right by our audience and come in and elevate the fan experience,” Aletaha said, “so given it is a digital sport and our audience is digitally native, it’s really exciting to partner with Verizon.”
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