The booming eSports industry has been uncharted territory for sneaker brands, until now. K-Swiss announced Friday a new partnership with the eSports organization Immortals, to launch the first signature sneaker for a professional gaming team.
The shoe, which will be offered as a lifestyle model in December and a technical performance model in early 2019, is intended for pro gamers who spend a long time in front of computers and who travel frequently on the competition circuit.
“Esports is the new frontier of sports and entertainment, and this is another way for K-Swiss to contribute to culture in a progressive and modern way,” Barney Waters, K-Swiss brand president, said.
Based on K-Swiss’ Kompass sneaker, the shoe is designed to be lightweight and breathable. An engineered mesh upper with four-way stretch creates a sock-like fit and a TPU cage for structure and support. The shoe will also debut K-Swiss’ new Surge dual-density technology, a lightweight EVA sole constructed to resemble a net, encased in a pillow-like cushion that helps alleviate weight on the heel.
Through visits to Immortals’ Los Angeles-based training facility over the next few months, K-Swiss said its designers will consider a professional gamer’s technical performance needs, such as the rising temperature in a shoe and movement of feet during a match.
“Like any professional athlete, eSports competitors look for any advantage they can use against their opponents,” Noah Whinston, Immortals CEO, said. “By wearing a uniquely designed shoe specifically created for our eSports players with their input, they know that they have an immediate advantage—both both physically and psychologically.”
The esports industry is entering a stage of enormous growth potential. Revenue from esports is projected to increase 38.2% this year to $906 million, according to Newzoo data.
Founded in 2015, Immortals is a leader in esports, competing in leading esports titles including CS:GO, DOTA2, and Super Smash Brothers. The company has as raised strategic investment from AEG, Lionsgate, the Milken Family, and Steve Kaplan. The franchise owns and operates the Los Angeles Valiant, one of two Los Angeles-based franchises in Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League, which launched in January 2018.