With a name like Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP), it's hardly a surprise that the leading eSports squad have been causing some controversy in the industry. The group only signed a deal with online bookmaker Betway last year, before terminating it in order to compete in events that barred gambling-endorsed teams from taking part.
In a recent turn of events, Ninjas in Pyjamas have re-signed with Betway in an interesting move for the gambling and eSports Industry. Due to the former deal breaking down for reasons unrelated to their relationship, it seemed reasonable for NiP to pick back up with Betway, one of the leading eSports bookmakers!
In September 2016, Betway and Ninjas in Pyjamas hit the headlines after putting pen to paper in what looked a very lucrative deal for the Swedish eSport brand. Indeed, it was rumoured to be a six-figure contract, in exchange for Betway being featured on the team's branded gaming T-shirts.
The deal will also include holding content rights, website branding on the Ninjas' website and access to the players for promotional material such as interviews, videos and events. It looked a real coup for the online bookie, which had already become a pioneer in the gambling industry by being the first to launch an eGaming microsite:
"[NiP] has a huge fan base all over the world and we are tremendously excited to provide exclusive, behind-the-scenes content on a regular basis as we follow the team’s quest to be the best."
It seemed a match made in heaven, with Björn ‘threat’ Pers and the squad showing the love to Betway, after CEO Hicham Chahine told reporters:
"We are thrilled with the opportunity to work closely with the leading eSports betting company and are certain the partnership will allow us to continue to grow our legacy to give our millions of fans around the world unforgettable experiences they will remember for a lifetime."
Unfortunately for all concerned, there was a glitch, coming in the shape of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). Specifically, the Series' owners, Riot Games, had installed contractual agreements that banned any side with gambling-related sponsorship deals. Ninjas in Pyjamas took the decision to terminate the Betway deal after an 11-month honeymoon in August 2017 – freeing them up to enter the EU LCS.
In a move that's seen some in the eSport and gambling industries raise their eyebrows, news of Ninjas in Pyjamas signing a new deal with Betway has made something of a mockery of the League of Legends Championship Series' ban on eSports teams competing when in association with the top online gambling brands.
After all, cynics may say that Betway released the Ninjas from contractual obligations to enable participation in the LCS, before conveniently striking a new sponsorship deal just a few months later. Equally, Betway was still able to sponsor individual players in the interim period.
However, most in the eGaming industry were outraged when the Betway deal broke down in the first place, not least because the two brands had been creating some of the best eSports coverage ever seen on the web – including groundbreaking content, access to pro gamers and competitions.
The fan outcry has been a big driver of a new deal, as revealed on NiP's website, where the brand reveals the fury of the fans:
"The opinions of fans, players and staff is something we hold highly, which led to us re-thinking our decision. The 12 months we spent with Betway was nothing short of amazing; producing content and fan experiences bringing our players closer to the fans. We must also admit we have spent numerous hours playing games with the eSports team at Betway, as they became more and more involved in the Ninja culture and community."
The Ninjas in Pyjamas are now left with a decision regarding a future within the League of Legends, something the brand's CEO, Hicham Chahine, says needs careful evaluation. Thankfully for fans, they'll now be able to get up close and personal again with the whole squad including:
Despite the slight controversy regarding the wheeling and dealing behind the Ninjas in Pyjamas and Betway deals, most in the gaming industry welcome the association with online gambling companies. And in the case of Betway, the original link up with the Ninjas was viewed as a strong move that hugely benefited both brands.
As the eSports industry explodes with growth over the next five years, experts predict that more teams will be keen to welcome the overtures of online betting and gambling brands. To check out some of the most extensive market coverage on the internet for eSports, visit Betway's budding eSports portal today!