North American esports organization Cloud9 have shocked fans with the unveiling of a collaboration with pop culture franchise The Smurfs.
Cloud9 have made partnerships with major brands over the years, establishing deals with the likes of BMW, AT&T, PUMA, Red Bull, and Microsoft.
However, their latest collaboration is a little on the unexpected side: they’ve worked with IMPS, the license holders of The Smurfs brand, to launch their own co-branded merchandise line.
The range includes t-shirts, hoodies, hats, velcro patches, mousepads, and even stickers. According to a tweet, the alliance was made “in hopes to strike feelings of joy and nostalgia with fans.”
— Cloud9 (@Cloud9) November 18, 2021
The only means of relation to The Smurfs brand in esports is a popular phrase known as ‘smurfing,’ which is when a high-level player makes a new account so they can play against other people who are ranked lower. Whether this is to have easy games or to play alongside lower-ranked friends, it’s generally seen as a negative activity.
The phrase has since also taken on an alternative definition, that of describing when teams in esports beat their opponents with ease. This phenomenon is indeed what Cloud9 and IMPS have leaned into in terms of inspiration for the merchandise.
Launched on November 18, the merch range also features the creation of a new Smurf named ‘Gamer Smurf’ who features prominently throughout the items and accessories.
Team Liquid, domestic rivals of Cloud9, announced in October 2021 that they were launching merchandise featuring Japanese manga series Naruto. The Naruto Akatsuki collection was made available for purchase later that month.