- Riot Games, creator of online battle arena game League of Legends, has enlisted rapper-singer Lil Nas X as the game’s president, according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
- The partnership will kick off with the 2022 League World Championship for which Lil Nas X will create a League champion in-game cosmetic skin, intertwine musical moments and perform live. The championship will begin Sept. 29 in Mexico City.
- Lil Nas X also produced an anthem for the championship, “Star Walkin,” which will debut Sept. 23 ahead of the event. The partnership includes the game’s first co-designed artist in-game collaboration and demonstrates growing interest by brands to utilize musicians to create original songs to attract new audiences.
League of Legends is one of the most popular PC games globally, commanding over 180 million monthly players and fans. But beyond casual play, the game’s world championship has repeatedly broken its own records during its finals, last year boasting an average minute audience of more than 30 million viewers during its finals match, per press materials. Recruiting pop-culture icon Lil Nas X, perhaps in attempt to yet again break a record, could help recruit a new wave of players.
As part of the partnership, the artist will perform live at the Chase Center in San Francisco on Nov. 5 for the Worlds Opening Ceremony presented by Mastercard. He will also design the “Prestige Empyrean K'Sante” in-game skin that will launch Nov. 3 and be obtainable until Nov. 14. The skin is not available for direct purchase, but must be earned by playing League of Legends or Riot Games’ other title, Teamfight Tactics.
Set to release a week ahead of the event, which spans 11 regions, Lil Nas X will release the championships’ anthem, “Star Walkin,’” to help build additional hype. Themed anthems have long been a marketing tactic for brands, though recently, many have revamped the strategy by taking the songs to TikTok and other social platforms.
Gaming’s popularity saw a boost during the pandemic. In 2021 the League of Legends World Championship final was watched by 73.9 million people, up drastically from the 46 million who watched it in 2020. Such a partnership could help ride that momentum, paired with big-name sponsors for the season that include Bud Light, Grubhub, Verizon and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Popular among younger consumers, Lil Nas X has recently been recruited to other brands likely looking to connect with Gen Z and Gen Alpha consumers. Last August, Taco Bell named the artist its “chief impact officer,” and the fast-food chain made an appearance in Lil Nas X’s music video for the song, “Sun Goes Down.”