The national airline of the United Arabian Emirates, Etihad Airways, announced Monday a multi-year partnership with esports organization Team Nigma, which recently revealed that it had relocated to Abu Dhabi under its partnership with Abu Dhabi Gaming (AD Gaming).
As part of the partnership, the Abu Dhabi headquartered airline will “make sure the team and its support staff will arrive, relaxed, refreshed and on time for their packed global schedule.” Team Nigma and Etihad plan further partnership activations, which will be announced in the future.
In addition to its new Team Nigma sponsorship, Etihad is the main partner of several sports brands, including the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the British soccer club Manchester City FC. Etihad Airways Vice President Brand, Marketing, and Sponsorships Amina Taher said that “we see the value in sports-based sponsorships which unite and engage with communities,” revealing that the airline categorizes its sponsorship as sports-based.
Team Nigma was founded in 2019 by the former Dota 2 roster of Team Liquid, which won The International 7. The team, which has strong ties to the MENA region through its players, moved its headquarters to Abu Dhabi by joining the AD Gaming initiative to help build the necessary infrastructure for upcoming talents in the region. AD Gaming was established by media and entertainment hub twofour54 Abu Dhabi and is supported by Unity Technologies, Flash Entertainment, UAE Pro League, Emirates Esports Association and the Media Zone Authority.
Etihad Airways joins a small number of airlines getting involved in the esports industry. Others include AirAsia, which previously sponsored Mineski’s Dota 2 team and was a WESG ASEAN title sponsor in 2019, Emirates, which previously partnered with ESL to show esports as inflight entertainment, Korean Air, which was a title sponsor of several StarCraft II tournaments, and Jin Air, which operated its own esports team Jin Air Green Wings until last year.
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