Fashion Brand ULT Rolls Out Apparel For Pro Madden Team Versus Sports


Versus Sports and ULT Apparel Partnership (Photo: ULT)

Versus Sports and ULT Apparel Partnership (Photo: ULT)

From Venturebeat by Jeff Grubb

It’s one thing to be great at games. It’s another to look good while doing it. To accomplish both, Versus Sports — the largest professional Madden team — is working with fashion brand ULT on a new line of apparel that captures the squad’s look and feel.

ULT is working to establish itself as the go-to brand for esports fashion products in the same way that people associate Nike, Adidas, or Reebok with traditional athletic sports. So ULT is expanding its partnerships from EUnited — an Overwatch, Call of Duty, and League of Legends team — to also include Versus Sports. This collaboration between Ult and Versus features an Elite Jersey, a long-sleeve T-shirt jersey, and two baseball caps. But ULT isn’t just selling shirts and hats — it is selling the swagger of the Versus Sports competitors. That’s a strategy that more companies in the $696 million esports market are likely going to employ, and Versus wants to lead the way.

Versus Sports Athlete Mark "Schemin" Samuels (Photo: ULT)

Versus Sports Athlete Mark "Schemin" Samuels (Photo: ULT)

“Currently every esports team jersey looks exactly the same with no reflection of key aspects of the this genre: sport, fashion, and athletics,” Versus Sports founder and chief executive Manny Anekal said. “Many brands also miss the mark on telling the story and lifestyle of these gaming professionals. With ULT, Versus Sports found the perfect partner that recognized the team’s brand vision and our cultural ethos.”

Versus Sports Jersey (Photo: ULT)

Versus Sports Jersey (Photo: ULT)

For Versus, this gives the team a unified look that fans can buy into. For ULT, this expands their presence not just into another team but also into a new game in Madden.

“The evolution of the ULT brand into the traditional sports space is something we are very excited by,” ULT brand lead designer Nate Eckman said. “Challenging cultural ideas of athleticism, sport, and fashion for this community is something we at ULT are deeply inspired to do. Being able to partner with Versus Sports and collaborate with Manny Anekal on product ideas and content strategy is a total thrill.”

Versus Sports Hat (Photo: ULT)

Versus Sports Hat (Photo: ULT)

Anekal says the partnership is ideal not because it gives Versus some extra products to generate revenue. Instead, it gives Versus a new way to express itself.

“I wanted to build apparel that was fashion forward and innovative not just in design; but being able to build upon ULT’s content strategy and platform,” said Anekal.

Going forward, you can expect to see brands like Versus making more partnerships like this, and you can also expect Versus Sports players to show up to every match decked out in their ULT gear.


[Disclaimer: Versus Sports is part of the portfolio of companies associated with The Next Level]

Disruptive Technologies For eSports: 3D Printing


3D Printer (Photo: KaboomPics)

3D Printer (Photo: KaboomPics)

TNL Industry Guest Post 007: Over the past 13 years, Anton Ferraro has helped develop numerous esports focused properties including tournament broadcasts, television programs, streaming platforms, branded campaigns, digital products & live event activations.

Anton began his career in 2004 by organizing and playing at local Halo events and shortly thereafter joined Major League Gaming to assist their media efforts. After 8 years with the company Anton transitioned to the West Coast and helped build the Azubu streaming platform as Director of Content.

Anton currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and pug. Too much of his time is spent playing Overwatch. You can view his work at

TNL Take:  In the last post I explored the potential impact of the Ethereum Blockchain across a few different verticals and will have a follow up post shortly.  Today we’ll examine opportunities 3D printing can provide within eSports.



In the late 00’s a group of entrepreneurs saw that the cost of delivering a video stream over a network was falling exponentially. At the same time, the proliferation of high speed internet and Moore's Law were allowing an increasing number of hobbyists to engage in the activity.

After a few years of hard work, a few pivots and the ever-needed bit of luck, Twitch sold to Amazon for ~$1B and currently sits as one of the top websites in the world.

3D printing is an industry which mirrors that of streaming.

The technology for printing is becoming exponentially better while the cost to participate is falling. This is allowing an increasing amount of hobbyists to create increasingly more impressive offerings. Digital hubs like MyMiniFactory and support networks like Patreon are allowing some of these hobbyists to generate revenue.

The decentralized nature of the activity will provide opportunities for content creators while challenging IP owners.

The situation parallels the early days of YouTube when video creators utilized IP’s belonging to publishers to create their own content. Heavy handed reproaches by the IP owners were not effective for a multitude of reasons and it took years for the platforms, creators, and IP owners to find a balance all three parties could accept.

Ultimately the IP owners aka Game Publishers realized that free content was an ongoing advertising campaign they could use to greatly increase revenue [Edit: Read this line again and again]

Publishers shifted their product development cycles and created DLC (Downloadable Content) and the GAAS (Games As A Service) business model started padding their bottom lines.

Early movers like TSM and OpTic Gaming built highly engaged followings off the video niche and are still reaping the rewards of that effort. While I expect it will take a few years for the 3D printing vertical to mature, as always early movers may score similar gains.



3D printing will impact eSports by improving the product design and distribution aspects of merchandising. The current merchandising model imposes limits on experimentation and requires long turn around periods for heavily customized gear.

eSports owners are frequently limited by the options offered by their suppliers which has caused a glut of similar items such as the same t-shirts, hats, keychains, hats, and posters.



Adding a 3D printing capabilities will allow eSports teams to capitalize on time sensitive tentpole events. Having a subject matter expert designing the gear in house will both shorten the design cycle and increase the authenticity of the item:

  • Custom bobble heads for new roster additions
  • Commemorative medals based on tournament victories
  • Supporting merchandise for viral content

The latest generation of 3D printers are also capable of printing complex electronic components. Once this tech hits the prosumer level it will be possible to create merchandise that can interface with digital libraries to provide additional value to the customer. [Edit: Hi Amazon and the NFL]


The current model is a pipeline of injection mold design, mass production, and distribution via international shipping.

Injection molds are expensive to produce.

Only after selling a specified amount of merchandise does the designer hit a break even point that pays for the injection mold.

The 3D printing model does not require injection molds and eliminates the risks associated with minimum product and the need to accurately forecast demand. This makes it economically viable to profit from small batches of items and scale up if and when a greater demand materializes.

3D printing is already seeing factories and prosumer level printers offering their services in many areas around the globe. This moves the responsibility of distribution costs and logistics away from designers and allows them to focus on the product.



Would You? (Photo: Someone On The Internet)

Would You? (Photo: Someone On The Internet)

As with any disruptive technology there are legal and hardware hurdles that need need to be overcome:

  • 3D printing is the perfect storm of patent, IP and privacy law
  • Printers need to get faster & cheaper
  • The technology needs to be more consumer friendly


Despite these challenges I believe the momentum of the 3D printing industry will force the existing status-quo to be transformed as it was with eSports video and live streaming.