Jeremy Lin has signed an agreement with China Digital Group and Vici Gaming, becoming the latest NBA star to expand his presence in eSports.
He signed an endorsement in April to exclusively represent CDC. Now, Lin will create a new team to compete in Valve’s extremely popular multiplayer online battle arena Dota 2 called Team VGJ reports ESPN.com.
“China Digital Group considers eSports as one of major business of growth in recent years. We’ll integrate our celebrity resources and eSports teams to create market value,” said Chris Hsu, the CEO of the CDC told ESPN.”
Lin, who’s longed publicly embraced video games and eSports, will join his organization in becoming a key player in the growing industry. The Barclays Center announced in May, it will be hosting ESL One starting October 1. The tournament will feature Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and a $250,000 grand prize.
Lin’s foray into eSports is representative of a growing trend among NBA players and franchises. In August, Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko purchased the rights to Team Renegades – a CS:GO franchise which competes in ELeague and ESL. Longtime League of Legends player and Utah Jazz star signed an endorsement deal with Hyper X last spring. Even Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins invested in NRG eSports, which owns competitive LoL and CS:GO teams. The earliest pioneer support eSports was former Laker Rick Fox, who’s become deeply invested in the competitions. He owns Echo Fox, which competes in LoL, CS:GO, Street Fighter V and Super Smash Bros.
The NBA world, like many investors, notices eSports becoming a viable, lucrative business. Lin is passionate about Dota 2, so creating a team is the next step to becoming more immersed in competitive eSports. With the Nets organization being increasingly connected to eSports, and jersey advertisement incoming, sponsorship between the two leagues might be what comes next from the partnership.