Esports Giant TSM Suspends $210M FTX Naming Rights Deal
Popular esports club Team SoloMid (TSM) announced today that it has suspended its 10-year, $210-million sponsorship deal with FTX after the cryptocurrency exchange collapsed last week amid a liquidity crunch.
TSM, ranked by Forbes as the most valuable team organization in esports, signed the decade-long naming rights pact with FTX in June 2021. On Friday, the team tweeted that it was “consulting legal consultation” to determine next steps following FTX’s bankruptcy filing.
“After monitoring the evolving situation and discussing internally, we’re suspending our partnership with FTX effective immediately,” the team tweeted in a statement today.
We've suspended our partnership with FTX effective immediately. — TSM FTX (@TSM) November 16, 2022
The team said that it will remove all FTX logos from jerseys, team branding, and social media—although it’s still part of the team’s Twitter name due to recent changes to Twitter’s verification system. Team SoloMid has gone by the name TSM FTX since inking the deal.
The $210 million sponsorship was the richest disclosed deal that FTX signed amid a flurry of sports sponsorships in 2021 and early 2022, including pacts with Major League Baseball, the NBA’s Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors, and F1 team Mercedes-AMG Petronas.
FTX also signed a few other esports deals, including a seven-deal sponsorship of Riot Games’ League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), although terms were not disclosed. Other FTX esports sponsorships include agreements with Brazilian team Furia and the Comcast-backed tournament organization, Nerd Street Gamers.
Despite the size of the TSM deal, which is also the largest known esports sponsorship by a crypto organization, the team said that it will be fine without the exchange’s backing.
“TSM is a strong, profitable, and stable organization. We forecast profitability this year, next year, and beyond,” the team tweeted today. “The current situation with FTX does not affect any part of TSM’s operating plan, which was set earlier this year.”
Mercedes-AMG Petronas similarly suspended its FTX deal on Friday and removed the logo from its F1 car. Soon after, the Miami Heat said that it will remove the exchange’s branding from its FTX Arena venue.
FTX was one of the best-known cryptocurrency exchanges with a rising star aided by its various sports sponsorship deals and athlete endorsements. However, last week, the exchange said that it had experienced a liquidity crisis and could not meet its customer obligations. Rival exchange Binance considered buying FTX to bail it out, but ultimately pulled out due to the extent of FTX’s troubles.
On Friday, founder Sam Bankman-Fried announced that FTX and its related companies had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and that he had stepped down as CEO. He has since said that he’s still looking to raise funds to try and rescue FTX and return billions of dollars’ worth of assets to customers.Source