“What if 100 Thieves made a golf collection?” This tweet spurred a question: What new merchandise ideas can LCS teams bring to the table? For the most part, North American esports teams offer the same old jersey-hoodie-tee-hat combination with small variations org-to-org. These standard apparel options are necessary expectations for esports fans, but what else is out there?
If @100Thieves made a golf collection?? 👀⛳️
Who would cop? Feedback appreciated 🙂 pic.twitter.com/BJYzZHyTIb
— REBEL PEEJ | PJ Madden (@notpeej) July 22, 2020
Current Creative Merchandise
100 Thieves: No Camping Collection
100 Thieves is generally on the front lines of esports apparel. The organization’s sense of style stormed the scene when they joined the LCS franchised league. Rather than utilize traditional esports kits, 100 Thieves opted for a baseball-inspired jersey.
Their newest collection is unique for an esports line. The No Camping Collection features the typical hoodies and tees with orange, yellow and blue graphics depicting tents and forestry with stylized writing. They also weave in a bucket hat and a bandana. 100 Thieves says “The collection represents the idea to never settle and always be on the move.”
This collection is another departure from traditional esports merch. The apparel does not include 100 Thieves’ signature colors. The overall design is unrelated to gaming or esports. 100 Thieves did not even utilize the logo much.
Cloud9: MVP Blaber
While the actual merch is pretty standard, Cloud9 dedicated a tee shirt and poster to Blaber’s MVP performance in Spring Split 2020. Blaber is featured as Gragas, his most-played champion of the split. This is a really cool way to pay homage to a specific player’s success.
Cloud9 did the same thing with Svenkseren as MVP in 2019 Summer Split. The tee-shirt and poster featured the jungler as Jarvan IV. Cloud9 may be the only team releasing this type of honorary merch for individual players.
Team Liquid: LIQUID X MARVEL
Last year, Team Liquid partnered with Marvel to create Avengers-inspired jerseys, which they unveiled at Rift Rivals. TL initially released jerseys for Captain America, Iron Man and Avengers Endgame, but have since branched out to include Black Widow, Hulk and Spider Man.
Cross-promoting esports and other fandom is a unique idea that has not been executed at this level before. Team Liquid’s Black Widow merchandise helped build hype for the movie, which was set to release earlier this year before theaters closed due to COVID-19. Allowing LCS fans to represent their favorite team and their favorite Marvel hero at the same time makes for a cool crossover.
FlyQuest: Women and Eco-Friendly Lines
While most LCS teams offer some items for women, FlyQuest has fleshed out more of a full line. This collection includes leggings, sports bras and crop tops, much more than the standard female tee shirt or jersey. FlyQuest also lists them as being made by women, for women.
They also produced an eco-friendly apparel collection, which is made from recycled and renewable resources. On brand with FlyQuest, every item purchased plants a tree. This focus on environmentalism with respect to merchandise is new to the LCS.
Future Merchandise Ideas
LCS teams can do so much more in the merchandise department. All of the organizations focus on apparel, as that is probably the easiest, most straightforward option when it comes to merchandising. Slap some colors and logos on various basic clothing items, add a mark-up, and post it on the site. Rotate the items two to three times a year with different designs, and there is a consistent flow of revenue. Low risk, normal reward.
Fans would love to see more experimentation with merch, like those four concepts mentioned above. This experimentation can take shape through unique items outside of apparel (think 100 Thieves golf balls), smartly designed apparel that breaks away from the mold, or anything else they can think of.
This one seems like the most obvious avenue for a team to stand out. Collaborate with a footwear company to design a sneaker, or at least release a custom colorway, specific to an LCS team. Most North American teams seem to care about quality shoes for their players, but they have not developed options for the fans beyond slides. Immortals collaborated with K-Swiss to create a sneaker in 2019. However, this was not marketed towards LCS fans, and it is not on IMT’s store website.
A quick trip to the official NBA store shows a host of footwear options. Socks, slides and slippers could easily get more exposure among LCS teams, but a team with options for nice shoes could gain some attention. Besides K-Swiss, Puma has also developed “active gaming footwear,” but professional reviews make the shoe out to be a glorified sock. And it is not tied to esports, just marketed towards gamers. Since Cloud9 already has a partnership with Puma, maybe they could create a blue and white colorway and sell them on their site.
Bumper Stickers/Vehicle Decals
Most LCS have various stickers for sale on their site. Third parties, like Redbubble, offer various esports stickers. However, almost all of them are tiny, and mostly for sticking on water bottles, laptops, etc. A 3-inch sticker is only visible up close. Bumper stickers are some of the most affordable ways a fan can support their team.
Go to Sticker Shoppe, and the Washington Nationals have three pages of car decal options available. These products are cheap to make, and easy to turn a profit. They also add an area of brand visibility beyond apparel, being on people’s vehicles. As far as creativity goes, stickers can even open doors that are not possible with apparel. With more auto makers exploring the esports space for advertising and partnerships, car decals seem like an obvious addition to the merchandise pool. Imagine a Team Liquid-Honda, a Cloud9-BMW, or Immortals-Toyota sticker.
This type of item would be a bit higher risk, but, if executed properly, could be an interesting exploration for LCS teams. Traditional sports generally sell plush toys of their mascots. For example, a Philadelphia Eagle, a Carolina Panther, or a Chicago Bear is available in the official NFL shop. While most esports teams do not officially have mascots, this concept is totally doable for most of them.
The easiest execution would be simple team logos as pillows or plushies. However, Team Liquid’s Blue, Dignitas’ owl symbol, or even FlyQuest’s fish gods could easily become stuffed animals, too. Golden Guardians could make a sword; Immortals could make a helmet.
If they got permission from Riot Games, LCS teams could take League of Legends champions and put jerseys on them. Cloud9 could release a C9 Blaber Gragas plush to go with the shirt and poster. TSM could put out a Syndra in Bjergsen’s jersey to honor the long-time player. There are definitely some opportunities here.
These are just a few ideas of current and potential creative merchandising pursuits in the LCS. With each organization finding its own niche within the esports ecosystem, becoming the team with the best and most wide-reaching merchandise could be an area to target. Some teams have created inspired, designed, curated merchandise (mostly apparel), but they could explore so much more. As esports continues to grow, their merchandising departments should go beyond standard tees, jerseys, and hoodies.