- Esports club G2 Esports will release Solana-based NFTs in February.
- The NFTs will provide exclusive access and perks to holders.
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Like many brands and celebrities, esports teams are beginning to show interest in NFT collectibles as a fan engagement tool. Following Team Vitality’s recent partnership with Tezos, which includes NFT plans, G2 Esports has now joined the fray by launching NFTs on Solana.
G2’s Samurai Army NFTs will be minted using Solana’s Metaplex protocol, and are inspired by the popular esports club’s samurai-themed logo. Each of the 6,262 total NFTs—which drop in February—features a randomly-generated profile picture, but they also provide perks to holders.
The Samurai Army NFTs are also billed as a pass into G2 Esports’ exclusive membership initiative, with access to a social club with other users, interactions with G2’s professional esports players, early access to future G2 NFT drops, and more. Additional potential benefits include chances to compete against esports pros and trips to future competitions.
"We are creating a gamified social club for sweaty gamers, esports, and NFT fans alike,” said G2 Esports founder and CEO Carlos “ocelote” Rodriguez, in a release.
According to a release, the Samurai Army partnership with Metaplex is a “long-term project” that will eventually be expanded into other formats, including games, comics, music, and more.
G2 Esports previously announced a multi-year exclusive NFT partnership with Bondly in June 2021, although it doesn’t appear that the collectibles were actually released. Decrypt inquired with the team about the status of that partnership, but we did not immediately hear back.
An NFT acts like a receipt that proves ownership of a digital item, and can apply to images, video files, and more. It can also serve as an access pass to a club, as with the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club, which provides exclusive access to a Discord server along with additional perks, such as free subsequent NFTs, merchandise, live events, and more.
The NFT market has exploded since early last year, generating some $23 billion worth of trading volume in 2021, per data from DappRadar—a surge from about $100 million worth in 2020.
Ethereum is the leading platform for NFT collectibles, but has emerged as a popular alternative due to lower fees, faster transactions, and significantly lower energy consumption. According to Metaplex, Solana NFTs—which have only been around for roughly six months—have already generated $1.2 billion worth of trading volume across more than 5.7 million NFTs from 85,000 projects.
The esports and crypto industries have crossed paths many times of late, including with prominent sponsorship deals. For example, cryptocurrency exchange FTX sponsored esports club Team SoloMid (TSM) in a 10-year, $210 million naming rights deal last year, and then sponsored Riot Games’ League of Legends competitions in a seven-year alliance. TSM also revealed a collaboration with Solana NFT gaming project Aurory in October.
Rival crypto exchange Coinbase has sponsored teams like Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid, as well, along with tournament operator ESL. And while Tezos and Team Vitality didn’t disclose the terms of their recent deal, it made Tezos the team’s “main partner” and was billed as the largest deal in the French club’s history.
G2 Esports—which competes in games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Rocket League—has made other previous alliances in the wider blockchain space. Besides the aforementioned Bondly deal, the team also brought on blockchain infrastructure firm Hdac Technology as a sponsor back in 2019.