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Mastercard signs on as global partner for League of Legends

The multiyear deal will see Mastercard become the game's exclusive payment service partner.

Lots of young people watch League of Legends, and Mastercard is likely hoping targeting a younger demographic will pay off. 

Mastercard wants in on esports, and it's going in big.

The company Tuesday announced in Singapore a new partnership with the Riot Games' League of Legends, which is currently one of the biggest (if not the biggest) esport. A recent tournament, the Mid-Season Invitational, saw close to 20 million players watching online streams, and the game itself features an estimated player base of around 100 million gamers.

The deal will see Mastercard become the game's exclusive payment service partner. Mastercard will also offer fan experiences through its Priceless site, where fans will be able to attend behind the scenes tours or watch with a pro player from VIP seats.

These experiences will be available at three major annual League of Legends events -- the Mid-Season International, the All-Star event and the World Championship, with the first experience taking place as early as next month in South Korea for the World Championship.

"League of Legends has scale, it's growing pretty well and the environment lends itself to us and our partners for solutions that work for fans," said Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard's chief marketing and communications officer.

"It's very critical for us to have partners who are receptive to our approach for co-creating and innovating together, and we found Riot Games to be exactly that. We looked at every single opportunity and finally zoomed in into League of Legends."

Rajamannar added that Mastercard has also looked into Riot's action plans over recent reports of sexism and sexual misconduct and "are comfortable with what they [Riot] are doing" to fix the issues.

The Mastercard League of Legends deal is likely the first of its kind, even if the company has sports partnerships in tennis, soccer and golf. Rival Visa already has sponsorship deals with esports teams and ties to the Olympics and the Fifa World Cup.

First published Sept. 18, 9 p.m. PT.
Update, 10:40 p.m.: Adds comment from Mastercard.