Filling the role of the bot-lane player within the Chinese League of Legends team Royal Never Give Up, Zihao is working with Nike to promote NBA star LeBron James’ new “Dribble &” campaign. The Esports Observer reported on the new Nike partnership that was spotted through Nike’s international Weibo page with an announcement that featured James and Zihao alongside other prominent individuals who partnered with the athletic company.
Zihao’s shirt says “Dribble & Carry” while other shirts will have different messages shown on them. The role the pro player fills in the bottom lane is also referred to as the “Attack Damage Carry” position since it’s his job to deal tons of damage and clear the way for his team to win games.
The Esports Observer’s report points out that this appears to be the first partnership Nike has signed with a professional esports player. With how big of a game League of Legends is worldwide, the partnership seems like a logical first start for the athletic retailer with the timing being appropriate too seeing how the League of Legends World Championship is going on right now. Zihao’s team has been playing in the World Championship after qualifying for the global tournament but lost on Saturday to European team G2 Esports.
Amazing to see Nike collaborating with Uzi for their ‘Dribble &’ campaign w/ @KingJames.October 17, 2018
While Zihao’s Nike partnership is big news for both himself, Nike, and other esports players who can now hope for similar opportunities, it’s not the first time a prominent gamer has made headlines this year for partnering with an organization normally associated with traditional sports. Fortnite streamer Ninja who has both participated in and hosted his own battle royale tournaments was featured on the cover of ESPN Magazine last month. The competitive player was the first professional player to be featured on the magazine’s cover with both the cover and the profile of the player shown on TV later. He also later made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres show with DeGeneres later making another appearance on his stream.
It’s unclear at this time what the extent of Zihao’s Nike partnership will be.