Esports has evolved from a novelty to a $1 billion business that garners the attention and fanfare of traditional sports via sponsorships, TV deal — and now even sneakers. K-Swiss and Immortals Gaming Club recently teamed up to offer the first-ever esports performance shoe: the ONE-TAP.
To some, a shoe made for people who play video games might seem a bit superfluous. But K-Swiss president Barney Waters said that like basketball, tennis, and soccer shoes, the ONE-TAP is designed for players to perform their best. “In the esports world, this is no exception, as physical and psychological preparation breeds excellence in performance, exactly what the ONE-TAP offers.”
Immortals Gaming Club CEO Ari Segal told Yahoo Finance that he’s encountered some doubters of the concept along the way, but is quick to shrug them off.
“We have encountered all that skepticism … but I would encourage people to think about what ‘performance’ actually means. Performance just means putting a player or an individual or a team in a position to play better and to play to win.”
Segal, who served as COO of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes, added that many years ago sports psychology wasn’t recognized as integral to performance but is now considered an indispensable part of strategy.
“If a player in any sport is doing something that detracts from their focus on the task at hand, they're not going to be performing their best … We started from this premise of ... shoes designed by gamers and players for gamers and players. And if we make it look cool, and we make it something that people feel good in, and it feels like something that was designed for them, then perhaps that feeling will drive performance.”
In that spirit, ONE-TAP aims to pack comfort, versatility, and temperature control in a sleek model. It features a soft and flexible mesh upper with an elasticated closure to provide a snug fit. It also features a cut-out of the sole, a ‘Flow Cool’ TPU venting unit, which helps with temperature control. For chilly competitions, there’s a wool-lined insert. But the standout feature of the shoe is the foldable heel, which can transforms the shoe so it’s more slipper-like for long hours of play.
Limited quantities of the MIBR ONE-TAP will be available on kswiss.com/mibr starting July 17. The shoe retails for $125, and select buyers will be invited to participate in a Beta program to try the shoe in action and offer input on design. The feedback collected will be incorporated in the final release of the shoe in 2020.
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.