Esports Arena: Louis Vuitton Partners With 'League of Legends'; Smash Bros. European Cup Series Bans Character

Courtesy of Riot Games

Elsewhere in competitive gaming: OpTic Gaming taps former pro to manage Los Angeles franchise in the new 'Call of Duty League,' and 'League of Legends' World Championship sets its groups.

E-sports Arena is a curated weekly roundup of the biggest stories in the world of online competitive gaming.

Fashion powerhouse Louis Vuitton and League of Legends developer Riot Games have announced a new partnership ahead of next month's League of Legends World Championships. 

The deal will see the fashion brand design and award a custom-made trophy travel case for the winning squad. Additionally, Louis Vuitton will debut unique champion skins for players' characters, a capsule collection designed by the company's artistic director of women's collections Nicolas Ghesquière and more digital content to be revealed at a later date.

“The League of Legends World Championship is not only the climax of the tournament, it’s where the world of sports and entertainment come together in celebration of new legends to be born,” said Michael Burke, chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton. “Louis Vuitton has long been associated with the world’s most coveted trophies, and here we are today, alongside the Summoner’s Cup. We are thrilled to be part of such an iconic event.”

Naz Aletaha, head of global esports partnerships at Riot Games, commented on the new partnership via press release, saying, “We are honored to have Louis Vuitton as an official partner with designs to impact the look, feel, and prestige of our most prominent League of Legends event. This is a historic partnership that speaks to the impact Riot Games and League of Legends has had on the industry over the past nine esports seasons.”

The League of Legends World Championships will kick off Oct. 2 in Berlin, culminating in the Summoner's Cup Finals on Nov. 10 in Paris.

Elsewhere, Nintendo of France has banned Dragon Quest XI's Hero character from being in used in competition during the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate European Cup Series, slated to run Sunday through Oct. 27. The character has been criticized by some in the Smash competitive community due to his heavy reliance on chance. This is the first instance of an official tournament banning Hero from play. The ban also includes all characters released for Smash Bros. Ultimate after Monday.

Here’s what else is happening in the world of e-sports.

League of Legends World Championship Sets Groups

The groups for the 2019 League of Legends World Championships have been drawn, with 12 teams now slotted for the tournament with four more to be decided during the play-in stage beginning Oct. 2 in Berlin. The groups are as follows:

  • Group A: Cloud9 (NA), Q2 Esports (Europe), Griffin (Korea)
  • Group B: FunPlus Phoenix (China), J Team (Taiwan), Gigabyte Marines (Vietnam)
  • Group C: SK Telecom T1 (Korea), Fnatic (Europe), Royal Never Give Up (China)
  • Group D: Team Liquid (NA), Invictus Gaming (China), AHQ Esports Club (Taiwan)

Play-in stage groups were also revealed, including North America’s Clutch Gaming and Europe’s Splyce, who will compete for four spots in the main group stage, one slot in each group. 

OpTic Taps Former Player to Manage Los Angeles Call of Duty Squad

Eric “Muddawg” Sanders, a former Call of Duty professional player and the previous head of esports operations at 100 Thieves, has signed on with OpTic Gaming to be GM of the team’s Los Angeles franchise in the new Call of Duty League. The team made the announcement via a YouTube video on OpTic’s channel, in which Sanders calls OpTic “one of the most storied franchises in esports history.” This is the first announcement for the OpTic-owned L.A. franchise, with neither the team’s name or the player roster yet revealed. The Call of Duty League will begin competition next year.

San Francisco Shock Star Suffers Injuries Ahead of OWL Grand Finals

Kwon “Striker” Nam-joo, one of the key components of the San Francisco Shock’s run to the Overwatch League Grand Finals, has revealed severe injuries he sustained in an unknown accident. Nam-joo made the injuries known via Twitter, showcasing what appear to be cuts on his left hand and left leg. He will be ready to compete this weekend, declaring “I’m fine I can play!” in response to a fan's concerns. The Overwatch League Grand Finals will kick off Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.