Red Bull announced Friday the launch of a League of Legends team that will play for a spot in the European Challenger Series.
The team — Park “Thal” Kwon-hyuk, Moojin “MooJin” Kim, Felix “MagicFelix” Boström, Tarik “Sedrion” Holz and Raymond “kaSing” Tsang — will be known as the Red Bulls. KaSing is the most well known player, as he was in the European League Championship Series with Vitality in 2016.
To this point, Red Bull has mainly sponsored individual players across various esports titles. Red Bull sponsors William “Leffen” Hjelte in Super Smash Bros and Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis in Street Fighter. Red Bull has sponsored Team SoloMid League of Legends player Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, but he’s no longer listed among Red Bull-sponsored athletes (though you can still view his athlete profile on the website). Sponsoring an athlete in the same game a company owns a team — even if they’re in different regions — could be a conflict of interest. Slingshot has reached out to Red Bull and Bjergsen’s team, Team SoloMid, for comment.
Red Bull’s first sponsored League of Legends player was Origen owner Enrique “xPeke” Cedeno. There’s no explicit mention of him as a Red Bull athlete on the website, but he’s draped in Red Bull gear in photos of a Dec. 16 interview. If the Red Bulls were to qualify for the European Challenger Series, Red Bull’s sponsorship of xPeke would be a direct conflict of interest because Origen, which was relegated in the most recent split, would also be in the same league.
Red Bull also hosts events in esports. It hosted a Hearthstone tournament last year and will run a relatively large fighting games event, Red Bull Kumite, next weekend. It also runs an esports news vertical, which could present another conflict of interest. It is unclear how the new League of Legends would affect coverage on the news site, if at all.
Cover photo courtesy of Red Bull