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K-Swiss to Sell ‘Performance’ Sneakers for Playing Video Games

K-Swiss Inc. is introducing a line of sneakers designed for video-game competitions, another attempt by athletic brands to capitalize on the burgeoning esports market.

The new shoes sell for $110 and bear the logo of Immortals, an esports organization that fields teams for the games Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. K-Swiss is now readying a “performance” version of the sneaker, dubbed the Grandmaster, which is due by the middle of next year.

Why would a gamer, seated in front of a monitor, need high-performance footwear? Well, the Grandmaster will include the ability to quickly kick the shoes off hands-free. That should help provide comfort during long matches.

Esports, in which professional video-game players compete before live audiences and online, is one of the fastest-growing niches in the entertainment business. Over the past two years, video-game manufacturers have sought to mimic traditional pro sports by selling franchises, striking media rights deals and developing team-specific merchandise.

Separately, Immortals said that its founder, Noah Whinston, was bumped up to executive chairman, and its president, Ari Segal, replaced him as chief executive officer. The Culver City, California-based business is backed by investors such as veteran tech executive Meg Whitman, the Milken family and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.