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

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]

eSports Week In Review | Monetization Platform Fan.AI Raises $1.8M, Mountain Dew's Investment and Versus Sports Signs 5 EA Madden NFL Athletes

ESPORTS WEEK IN REVIEW | MONETIZATION PLATFORM FAN.AI RAISES $1.8M, MOUNTAIN DEW'S INVESTMENT AND VERSUS SPORTS SIGNS 5 EA MADDEN NFL ATHLETES

eSports Week In Review (Photo: CC License)

eSports Week In Review (Photo: CC License)

TNL Take: This week was a special one for the with 2 separate partnerships: Loot Ventures first investment in eSports monetization platform Fan.AI, and Versus Sports signing 5 EA Madden NFL Athletes for the upcoming Madden 18 season.

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

 

MONDAY 07/31

eSports Monetization Platform FanAI Raises $1.8M From Pro Sports VC's, Greycroft And Loot Ventures

eSports Monetization Platform Fan.AI Raises $1.8M (Photo: Fan.AI)

eSports Monetization Platform Fan.AI Raises $1.8M (Photo: Fan.AI)

Mountain Dew Sponsors 3 eSports Teams (Photo: Splyce)

Mountain Dew Sponsors 3 eSports Teams (Photo: Splyce)

Versus Sports EA Madden NFL 18 Team (Graphic: Jordan Fragen)

Versus Sports EA Madden NFL 18 Team (Graphic: Jordan Fragen)

 

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Versus Sports Signs 5 EA NFL Madden Athletes

VERSUS SPORTS SIGNS 5 EA MADDEN NFL ATHLETES

The Madden Championship Series will have paid out $1 million this year to players after the championship last May. (Photo: EA)

The Madden Championship Series will have paid out $1 million this year to players after the championship last May. (Photo: EA)

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

 

ESPN: VERSUS SPORTS ADDS FOUR MADDEN PROS TO JOIN STIFF

Esports organization Versus Sports announced Wednesday it has signed four additional Madden pros, upping its stable of Madden players to five total. Joining is Taylor "SpotMePlzzz" Robertson, Lavar "Mr. Hollywood" Gayle, Mark "Schemin" Samuels Jr., and Ryan "Strafing" Danczak. Versus Sports had signed Madden 2016 champion Frank "Stiff" Sardoni Jr. in September of 2016.

"I made an early bet on EA Madden and was the first team to sign any Madden athlete with Stiff last year. Since then, EA has invested $1M into Madden esports via their Competitive Gaming Division" said Manny Anekal, CEO and founder of Versus Sports.

In 2016, the Madden Championship aired on ESPN2, and this year on the NFL Network. According to Nielsen, this year's Madden Championship ratings were down by 100,000 viewers, but EA is not deterred as the community continues to grow.

"If you have a day job like I do, then also qualifying, competing, streaming and promoting yourself via social media is another job in itself," said Schemin, who recently took second during the Madden 17 49ers Club Series Championship. Now that Schemin is a part of Versus Sports, much like a professional athlete, all the brand and sponsorship stuff is taken care of by his new team. "Being able to use 100% of my energy to practice, compete and promote myself via social media... that's hundreds of hours of time saved," he said.

SpotMePlzzz, who won the Madden 17 Classic, echoed the sentiment, saying with Anekal's 10-plus years on the business side of gaming, he's free to put his energy elsewhere. "I can focus on my game and trust someone to focus on the business side."

Players like Schemin and SpotMePlzzz are treating Madden like a traditional sport in the sense that training and practice, as well as mental conditioning, need to be honed before competition. EA, too, has been working on making the game more viewable for larger audiences.

The uniqueness of watching two players duke it out in Madden versus an actual NFL game is the metagame taking place. Instead of the New England Patriots vs the Houston Texans, it's custom teams made from players of all eras and teams. Think of Madden as a deck building game where players build their perfect team and are playing a game of football chess. 

And according to EA, the growth in popularity of Madden is fostering a new generation of fans of the NFL, and introducing kids to the greats of past generations.

"I love my new teammates. Each one works as hard as the next," said Stiff. While competitive Madden is a one-on-one affair, Stiff has plans to work with his new teammates to foster a spirit of cooperative growth. He isn't worried that scrimming together will give his teammates too much matchup experience against him. 

"There is no I in team," said Stiff. "Being part of a team means doing whatever you need to do in order for the team to prosper. We all want to win but we are a unified team and a win for Versus Sports is a win for all of us."
 


Versus Sports EA Madden NFL 18 Team (Graphic: Jordan Fragen)

Versus Sports EA Madden NFL 18 Team (Graphic: Jordan Fragen)

[Edit: European soccer teams have seen great value with eSports and sponsoring athletes. You also have the upcoming NBA2K ELEAGUE.  NYCFC was the first MLS team in eSports. The ROI is clear and there will be an upcoming The Next Level research report on the results of these investments.

The biggest thing Madden has going for it as an eSport: millions of people in this country already know football - you don’t need someone to explain to you what just happened or "why are these dragons more powerful than those dragons?". It's also not a First Person Shooter.

Whoever the first NFL teams are to make similar moves like the European pro teams will reap the same benefits.

I would also like to give a huge, huge thank you to the amazing Jordan Fragen for the team graphic and the rockstar [REDACTED] who worked tirelessly to get 3 of these deals completed this past weekend.

Who's the other person? Look out for more Versus Sports EA Madden NFL (and EA FIFA?) news next week? 😉

#JustGettingStarted