Oakley signs its first professional esports player to roster of athletes
Optical brand Oakley already has a robust list of professional athletes it partners with: NFL stars Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin and snowboarder Chloe Kim. Now, for the first time, a gamer is joining the roster. The Southern California-based brand has announced “Call of Duty” champion Seth “Scump” Abner as its first esports athlete.
As part of the partnership, Abner will wear Oakley eyewear during all competitive matches and gaming livestreams, and will work with the brand to innovate around future products and campaigns. The deal was brokered by talent and entertainment company UTA.
“We’re thrilled to work with [Abner] to not only support him during his matches, but also to collaborate and innovate products and campaigns that will be useful to the esports community as a whole,” says Caio Amato, global chief marketing director at Oakley.
The 25-year-old gamer is a professional “Call of Duty” player for the Call of Duty League team OpTic Chicago, owned by NRG Esports. Abner is a two-time Major League Gaming (MLG) X Games gold medalist and won the title of “Best Console Player” at the 2017 Esports Industry Awards. He is widely known as one of the world’s top “Call of Duty” players and referred to as “The King” by fans. His influence in the gaming world has transcended to social media where he has more than 2.6 million followers on YouTube, 2 million followers on Twitter, 1 million followers on Twitch, where his streams get an average of 8,500 views, and 515,000 followers on Instagram.
Oakley’s announcement is a sign that partnerships with esports athletes are becoming just as important as those with athletes of more conventional sports. Analyst agency Newzoo estimates that esports revenues will reach around $1.6 billion by 2023.
Signing Abner is Oakley’s latest venture into the esports arena. In September, the brand launched specialty glasses for gamers with its Prizm Gaming Lens and blue-light filtering technology meant to be compatible with headsets, and announced an exclusive collection with gaming hardware company Turtle Beach. Last year, Oakley partnered with EA Sports around its Madden NFL 21 Championship Series for the tournament “Derwin James vs. The World,” with Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James.
“Oakley is a brand that has always been deeply rooted into sports performance and youth culture,” says Amato. “We want to keep inspiring and enabling kids to play their games all over the world, regardless if they are real or virtual games. For us, e-gaming is an authentic sport and we want to learn and grow together with this passionate community of athletes and enthusiasts.”
While this is Oakley’s first partnership with a professional gamer, Abner has worked as an influencer with brands like Duracell, iBuyPower gaming computers and Gymshark, and his team is sponsored by brands like Popeyes, T-Mobile, U.S. Army, Mtn Dew and gaming hardware companies like Turtle Beach and Scuf Gaming. He has also participated in a philanthropic campaign on behalf of the Call of Duty League to help frontline workers and healthcare professionals battling COVID-19.
“It is an honor to be the first esports athlete on Team Oakley,” said Abner in a statement. “Oakley has quickly proven itself to be an authentic and committed partner, so I’m excited to introduce the brand’s offerings to my fans and engage with other athletes on their roster. We already have a lot in the works and I look forward to sharing more in the months to come.”