DraftKings Appears to Suspend its Sponsorships with Six eSports Teams
March 6, 2016
DraftKings Appears to Suspend its Sponsorships with Six eSports Teams, Potentially as the Result of Escalating Legal Battles
In September of 2015, Daily Fantasy Sports giant DraftKings initiated a platform for fantasy eSports, focusing on the globally popular multiplayer online battle arena game League of Legends. They also formed partnerships with six of the largest competitive League of Legends teams: CLOUD9, complexity Gaming, Counter Logic Gaming, Mousesports, SK Gaming, and Team SoloMid.
However, the DraftKings logo has disappeared from the websites and jerseys of each of these teams, prompting questions as to whether or not DraftKings possesses the necessary funds to continue to support its previous eSports partners. DraftKings is currently embroiled in a suite of high profile legal battles across several different U.S. states; it is thought that legal fees may be putting a financial strain on DraftKings that is beginning to show in the sponsorships it offers.
The Daily Dot, a media outlet specializing in internet stories, was the first to break the news. “Sources close to these teams tell the Daily Dot that DraftKings has dropped sponsorship from all six of these teams. The DraftKings logo has been removed from each teams’ jerseys and websites. The reason for leaving esports teams behind is not clear. But sources suggest DraftKings has been hit with unexpected financial issues after running into legal problems in several states.”
This is not the first time DraftKings has been observed to roll back its sponsorship programs. In November, when DraftKings first faced its largest challenge from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the company requested several of its National Basketball Association clients temporarily put off a tenth of the money it had promised for sponsorship.
However, DraftKings seemingly still maintains its sponsorship relationship with many other sports teams, including the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Miami Dolphins, the Minnesota Vikings, the New England Patriots, the New York Giants, the Oakland Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Tennessee Titans, and the NFL Players Association. DraftKings entered into each of these partnerships no later than September of 2015, predating its New York Attorney General Court case by two months. DraftKings also recently created partnerships with several UK football clubs, including Liverpool and Watford.
DraftKings commented on the Daily Dot story and its waning direct ties with eSports teams: “Our partnerships in the growing eSports field have been rewarding and we value our continued relationships with these businesses. We remain committed to offering exciting eSports DFS contests through the DraftKings platform and will continue to explore opportunities accordingly.”