Chinese Dota 2 team LGD Gaming announced on Wednesday (4 October) that they will now be sponsored by Honkai: Star Rail, the smash-hit space fantasy RPG by Chinese developer HoYoverse, as they compete in The International (TI) 2023, this year's Dota 2 world championship tournament.
LGD announced the partnership on their official Weibo account and that the team is now on their way to Seattle for the tournament.
"LGD Gaming and Honkai: Star Rail have officially reached a cooperation! Honkai: Star Rail will sponsor the LGD Dota 2 division to compete in TI 2023. May this journey lead us starward!," a translation of LGD's post read.
Honkai: Star Rail has now sponsored the two Chinese teams competing in TI 2023, namely PSG.LGD and Azure Ray. Azure Ray announced their partnership with the game on Monday (2 October).
While LGD and Azure Ray did not elaborate on the details of their partnership with Honkai: Star Rail, it is expected that the game will appear in some form on the jerseys of both teams' players as they compete.
LGD is one of the longest-standing and most successful teams in the Dota 2 scene, having been active as far back as 2009 during the days of the original Defense of the Ancients mod for WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne.
In early September, LGD ended its partnership with PSG Esports, the esports wing of the French football club Paris Saint-Germain F.C., after five years under the PSG.LGD brand.
The PSG.LGD era saw the team finish in the Top 3 of TI three times, finishing second in TI 2018 and 2021 and placing third in TI 2019. The team also claimed three championships in the Majors — the biggest Dota 2 events outside of TI — during that span.
LGD earned a direct invite to TI 2023 and are expected to be among the contenders to claim the Aegis of Champions.
TI 2023 will be hosted from 12 to 29 October in Seattle, the United States and will feature 20 of the best Dota 2 teams in the world will be fighting to claim the coveted Aegis of Champions and the lion's share of a growing prize pool.
For everything you need to know about TI 2023, check here.
What's up with Honkai: Star Rail's Dota 2 partnerships?
While it's fairly common for esports teams to receive sponsorships from brands that are not endemic to esports and gaming, it is rare to see a game itself like Honkai: Star Rail to sponsor esports teams.
With that said, Honkai: Star Rail sponsoring the two Chinese teams at TI 2023 makes sense when considering the game is developer by one of the biggest Chinese game developers in HoYoverse. It will also be a good opportunity to advertise the game in one of the biggest esports events of the year.
But whether Honkai: Star Rail's esports presence will grow beyond partnerships with certain teams remains to be seen.
The fact that the game is entering Dota 2 esports is especially intriguing when considering Dota 2 developer Valve Software isn't as restrictive as other developers like Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends and VALORANT, when it comes to having other games be present in their esports scenes.
With Valve's decision to end the Dota Pro Circuit this year opening up more opportunities for third-party tournaments in the Dota 2 esports scene, the possibility of Honkai: Star Rail sponsoring a Dota 2 tournament — not just teams — may actually become a possibility.
If nothing else, Honkai: Star Rail's partnerships with LGD and Azure Ray are signs that it and other HoYoverse games have now grown their influence beyond the casual gaming sphere and into esports.
In January, Chinese Dota 2 superstar Wang "Ame" Chunyu notably surprised his fans when he posted a video of himself cosplaying as the Genshin Impact character Childe. A few months later in May, a VALORANT pro player forced his team to forfeit an official match because he was too busy playing Honkai: Star Rail shortly after the game released.
If you're a Dota 2 player intrigued by Honkai: Star Rail after their partnerships with LGD and Azure Ray and want to begin your own interstellar journey, you can check out our beginner's guide to get you familiarised with the game's various systems.
Honkai: Star Rail also has its version 1.4 update coming up on 11 October, featuring three new characters in Jingliu, Topaz, and Guinaifen as well as the launch of the game's PlayStation 5 version, among others.