K-Swiss has entered the gaming arena, launching the first e-sports performance shoe with Immortals Gaming Club for Made in Brazil, or MIBR, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive e-sports organization.
K-Swiss and IGC formed a partnership in April 2018 and produced the Immortals x K-Swiss lifestyle sneaker that launched in December 2018. The new e-sports shoe is a continuation of this partnership.
The limited-edition shoe, named One-Tap, had been in production for one year. It was developed for both professional and amateur gamers, who generally practice and compete in seats. One-Tap has a mesh upper, a foldable heel to be worn as a sneaker or a slide, a “Flow Cool” TPU venting unit to let air into the shoe and wool-lined insoles to cover the vents for warmth. The shoe also has MIBR branding and the Brazilian crest, in reference to the organization’s name and home.
“This first version is designed for MIBR in their colors. We positioned this version as a beta program,” said Barney Waters, president of K-Swiss. “We wanted to get a version out for the players and start to get feedback on what could be improved and come back in 2020 with a finer version of the shoe.”
Waters said only 200 pairs were produced. “We made a small amount available for the enthusiast,” Waters said. “We think this is the first e-sports sneaker designed from a performance perspective. There’s no blueprint to follow, we think we’re first.”
He said the shoe is “designed by the players and finished by the fans.” The name, “One-Tap,” also comes from professional and amateur gamers and references to “the one tap finish,” or the single tap needed to win a game.
“The working name was focused on the top of the pyramid, the high-performance pro, and I’m actually very satisfied that the name we settled on is centered on game play,” said Ari Segal, chief executive officer of Immortals Gaming Club, the U.S.-based e-sports team with competitors in Counter-Strike, Overwatch and Super Smash Bros., among others.
One-Tap retails for $125, which is not high when considering how much money professional and amateur gamers spend for training and leisure. Waters mentioned gaming chairs retail for as high as $599 on DXRacer or $399 for the Alienware S5000 chair available on the Dell web site.
“People spend money in this arena,” Waters said. “They spend money on sneakers but also on e-sports. These guys who play are into style and want to look their best. It gives a psychological advantage as well.”
K-Swiss and MIBR decided to partner due to the latter’s global audience of 9 million to 10 million people, 35 percent of whom are Brazilian. Segal said the organization has been successful “on an international stage in Europe, North America and South America.” The Counter-Strike series began in 1999 as a modification of the game Half-Life, and became an official franchise in 2000. MIBR competes in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive game.
“When you consider that the biggest e-sports tournaments got more viewers than the NBA Finals, we’ve barely touched the surface for what e-sports will be,” Waters said. “We’re first but definitely won’t be last.”