mlgMajor League Gaming is announcing today it has an alliance with national hat retailer Lids. Under the deal, the professional video game league’s fashion headwear line will start selling at 250 stores around the country starting on Nov. 15.

It’s not a particularly huge deal by itself. But it’s smart marketing, as Lids stores sell cool gear to the young crowd that watches MLG’s events, both live and on the web, where professional gamers square off against each other in tournaments as they compete for prizes. It shows that professional gaming, once thought laughable, has spread across the country and is now worthy of some mainstream retail attention.

Promos will start on Nov. 15 that will celebrate the MLG “brand and lifestyle.” The MLG gear was previously available only online and at MLG Pro Circuit live events. The Lids stores will sell four hats with the MLG labels. The MLG gear, which will be made by clothing maker Get Sum, will sell alongside fashion with the Star Wars and Activision brands as Lids tries to reach the young male market. MLG’s core market is about 40 million consumers strong.

On MLG’s web site, players can compete against each other in more than 40 online games. A couple of rival leagues, such as the high-profile Championship Gaming Series league sponsored by News Corp. and DirecTV, have gone out of business. The CGS spent a lot of money on prime time TV broadcasts of tournaments, but it never gained much of an audience among mainstream TV viewers.


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Remaining rival leagues include the Global Gamers League and the internationally focused World Cyber Games. An investment group also recently bought the Cyberathlete Professional League. It’s not clear how big these leagues are in comparison to MLG.

MLG has a few dozen employees and has raised $42.5 million in three rounds of venture money from Oak Investment Partners.

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